A Dead Teenager, a Violated Woman, and an Imprisoned Grandfather

The price of pot prohibition


Hammond family

This week the Justice Department said it will investigate the shooting of Zachary Hammond, an unarmed 19-year-old who was killed by a South Carolina cop last month in the course of a drug sting involving 10 grams of marijuana. In my latest Forbes column, I discuss the Hammond case along with two other recent examples of the outrages committed in the name of pot prohibitiion:

On Wednesday night the Justice Department announced that it will look into the death of 19-year-old Zachary Hammond, who was shot and killed by a police officer outside a Hardee's in Seneca, South Carolina, on July 26. At the time, Hammond was on a first date with 23-year-old Tori Morton, who according to police had been lured to the restaurant's parking lot by an undercover officer posing as a marijuana buyer. After the shooting she was charged with possessing 10 grams of pot—about a third of an ounce.

Police say the undercover officer pulled up alongside Hammond's car while Lt. Mark Tiller, who was in uniform, approached the vehicle to assist with the expected arrest. Tiller says Hammond, who was unarmed, saw him, panicked, and tried to run him down, forcing him to fire two shots through the driver's side window in self-defense. But an autopsy commissioned by Hammond's family found that one bullet entered his left shoulder from behind while the other entered his chest from the side—wounds that the family's lawyer, Eric Bland, says are inconsistent with Tiller's story, which he calls "ridiculous" and "offensive." The Seneca Police Department has dashcam video of the encounter, which might help clarify the facts, but has not released it yet.

Even if we assume that Tiller is telling the truth and that he reasonably believed lethal force was necessary to avoid death or serious injury, this entire situation was created by the cops, for the sake of enforcing an arbitrary ban that has been partly or completely rejected by nearly half of the states. 

Read the whole thing.