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Police Kill Man with Bulldozer over 10 Marijuana Plants

Drug war absurdity meets police recklessness.

BulldozerRedshed / Dreamstime.comPennsylvania State Police killed a man with a bulldozer over a 10-plant marijuana grow "operation" on state lands in Berks County.

The man's death was likely an accident, but it highlights how recklessly and foolishly police have perpetuated the drug war, even as Americans want to pull back.

On July 9 a state worker on a bulldozer was clearing out some brush to improve hunters' access to state lands. He saw a suspicious car off the road and called the cops. When law enforcement came out to investigate, the Reading Eagle reports, they found those 10 marijuana plants.

They also found two men: David B. Light, 54, and Gregory Longenecker, 51. Light surrendered to police immediately. Longenecker ran.

The police called in a helicopter to follow Longenecker, but they lost him in the dense brush of the state lands. A trooper jumped onto the bulldozer and used it with the state worker to try to chase the grower. What happened next is a little vague, thanks to police spokespeople's propensity to describe events in ways that leave out any sort of clear cause-effect relationship. But according to State Police spokesman David Boehm, the bulldozer was clearing a path through the underbrush when the state trooper on the bulldozer told the worker to stop. Then they looked behind the bulldozer and saw Longenecker's body.

The subsequent autopsy determined that Longenecker died of "traumatic injuries." At the time of Longenecker's death, Boehm had tried to float the possibility that maybe the man died of a heart attack prior to being run over by a bulldozer. (Presumably the terror of having a bulldozer bearing down on him, about to run him over, caused Longenecker to have a heart attack and die, right before the bulldozer actually ran him over.)

Boehm also told the Eagle that the police do not think Longenecker's death was the result of a "police pursuit." He insisted they were just trying to "locate" him by commandeering a bulldozer and sending it racing into the brush while a helicopter hovered overhead.

That defensive posturing is likely a reaction to angry questions wanting to know why the police responded so harshly to a grow operation involving 10 whole plants. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has trashed the State Police's behavior, reports the Associated Press:

"We simply cannot understand how a man is dead over an investigation involving 10 cannabis plants," said Patrick Nightingale, executive director of NORML's Pittsburgh chapter and a former Allegheny County prosecutor. "The whole investigation was ridiculous. I've seen law enforcement take down major heroin traffickers that haven't engaged in this level of aggression."

The officer who had been on the bulldozer is on administrative leave while the incident is under investigation.

Recreational use of marijuana in Pennsylvania is still a crime, though Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have decriminalized the possession of small amounts. The state legalized medical marijuana use in 2016 to treat a limited set of conditions.

Light has been charged with felony counts of drug possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to deliver, as well as drug possession, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and criminal trespass. He was released on a $25,000 bail. Jeff Reidy of NORML tells the Associated Press that the 10 marijuana plants probably had a street value of less than $5,000. He theorizes that they were probably only for personal consumption.

Photo Credit: Redshed / Dreamstime.com

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Then they looked behind the bulldozer and saw Longenecker's body.

    Well, what was left of it.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Surprised they don't charge Light with the murder of his co-conspirator, thus absolving themselves of all blame.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Gas pedals were depressed, bodies run over...

  • Citizen X||

    "Run over" is still too active. Try "the alleged perpetrator became flattened resulting in his death."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Still too specific, "died from lack of oxygen to the brain".

  • Don't look at me.||

    No, "the police applied chest compression to try and save his life."

  • Huh18?||

    Great reply. Still sucks. But seriously, great reply.

  • RoyMo||

    Well nothing like "angry questions wanting to know" something...

  • Huh18?||

    I am willing to bet that will be discussed and strongly considered to be the best a top option in this fuck up.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Boehm also told the Eagle that the police do not think Longenecker's death was the result of a "police pursuit." He insisted they were just trying to "locate" him

    I'm trying to understand this - after they located him were they just going to walk away? Stare at him? Or does the pursuit only begin once he's been located?

    I feel sorry for the bulldozer operator. Next time, tell the cop to drive himself.

  • Agammamon||

    Read the story - the cop *was* driving.

  • Rossami||

    Read the story yourself - no, he wasn't. The "state trooper on the bulldozer told the worker to stop". The cop was riding on the bulldozer and apparently directing the worker but the cop was not at the controls him/herself.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The cop was riding on the bulldozer and apparently directing the worker but the cop was not at the controls him/herself.

    That's what I thought as well. Makes sense: operating a bulldozer requires far more skill and intelligence than the average cop possesses.

  • Cy||

    Usually pays a lot better too.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Until the last few years of their career when cops like to work lots of overtime in order to "spike" their pensions.

  • Huh18?||

    LMFAO

  • Tionico||

    ackshully skinning a cat takes quite a bit of skill to make it do the fine work it can, cutting a grade just so , levelling a field, etc. But just to make one go in a pretty straight line for a while ain't no big deal. I can do that right after hopping on. OHHHH, you wanted some finesse with the blade? Now that's another matter. But to just strike out into a woods to chase someone, not so hard.

    What I wonder about, though, is how they so quickly caught up with a guy running for his life from the coppers...... most cats can't traverse at more than a few miles per hour, particularly in the rough, as this appears to be. Makes me wonder if perhaps the suspect had been ventilated slightly prior to the "unfortunate" contact with the machine. All the clatter and roar from the cat at full tilt could pretty easily mask the sound of a nine from a long ways off.......

  • gaoxiaen||

    Just following orders.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    The perpetrator's body allegedly became run over by the bulldozer.

  • Longtobefree||

    Bulldozers are like guns. The have agency and kill people all by themselves.

  • Huh18?||

    To be fair...the guy MAY have had a heart attack that killed him.

  • gaoxiaen||

    JFK may have had a stroke milliseconds before Oswald pulled the trigger.

  • Harvard||

    Sounds like a cluster resulting in an accidental death. But, of course, the accident occurred during an operation on an (at this time anyway) illegal patch of the Devil's Lettuce, the official flower of the liberaltarian efforts. Ergo, this is important shit.

  • Agammamon||

    Sounds like a cluster resulting in an accidental death.

    To me it sounds like murder. Negligent manslaughter at the least.

  • Harvard||

    And you'd charge who? Dozer operator or cop? Legislators who voted for the law? Voters of the legislators? You're a hysterical puss.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    Harvard: I would start with the guy with the giving the orders.

    Please explain why a charge like negligent manslaughter is inappropriate. Driving a dozer off into the brush without seeing where you're going seems pretty negligent to me.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    ... with the gun ...

  • Harvard||

    I said it was a cluster, and it was. I'd never gotten my duty pants dirty climbing aboard the dozer, nor would I have driven it when asked. But then, I'd never have run after my accomplice was caught. In fact, I'd never have grown the weed outside my basement. The upshot of all this is the cop will be reprimanded for poor judgment and given time off, probably not fired. The city will piss away some money to the perp's kin and be happy to get a pay day. The other perp will be prosecuted to the nines. The dozer driver will retell this story a zillion times in NASCAR infields. This is, at best, a local story, not worthy of serious discussion.

  • Huh18?||

    And somebody else is going to pay for the whole shebang!

  • Huh18?||

    Havard: I agree. It is a complete shit show.

  • Agammamon||

    Start with the cop. Add in the dozer operator.

    Is that so hard? Or is 'I was just following order' - which they weren't - justification for killing a man over pot? For being so reckless that you kill a man over pot?

    Or is it just that you hate the demon weed and those hippies that smoke the reefer?

  • gaoxiaen||

    All of them.

  • marshaul||

    You're a hysterical puss.

    And you're an amoral shitheel.

  • colorblindkid||

    He's a white victim of the drug war so nobody in the press gives a shit. Narratives don't create themselves.

  • Longtobefree||

    Just think, if Jeff Sessions followed the law and took marijuana off schedule one due to it having proved medicinal uses, this might not have happened. Who would bother commandeering a bulldozer for a misdemeanor?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    A cop?

  • Huh18?||

    Exactly.

  • gaoxiaen||

    They'd do it for a status offence and blame it on the minor sneaking a beer.

  • Agammamon||

    What?! No Felony Murder? These people are going soft on crime!

  • Rich||

    A trooper jumped onto the bulldozer

    "Follow that car!"

    You can't make this shit up.

  • Cy||

    Really? You couldn't find a stock photo of an actual bulldozer?

  • Agammamon||

    These guys call APC's 'tanks'. All they know is that its construction equipment on treads.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Well, what do you expect from a bunch of COKTALE SIPING COZMO CUCK FAGGITS.

  • Longtobefree||

    There is a rule at Reason that the photo may never relate directly to the article.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    "The Game Commission employee and a Trooper were on the bulldozer driving through the thick underbrush. The bulldozer stopped in the underbrush. The second male was located under the rear of the bulldozer deceased."

    FFS, I can't even jokingly come up something more ridiculous.

    Also, inching towards Monday Night Rehabilitation.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    The second male was located under the rear of the bulldozer deceased.

    They make it sound like that was the suspect's chosen hiding place.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The felonious perp attempted to hide under the bulldozer.

    But seriously, they had one guy and a car. That wasn't enough to pick up the 2nd suspect later? Why risk lives and destroy forest to hunt some random dude?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Why risk lives and destroy forest to hunt some random dude?

    He ran. If you run from a predator, it has to chase you. It's in their nature.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    That's what I always say. If you run from a cop for any reason, odds are you're going to be killed.

  • Huh18?||

    It's actually not a bad wave to win the ghetto lottery for your family if you have a terminal disease or something.

  • Huh18?||

    WAY not wave

  • gaoxiaen||

    I grok you.

  • ||

    But seriously, they had one guy and a car. That wasn't enough to pick up the 2nd suspect later? Why risk lives and destroy forest to hunt some random dude?

    It's fucking Florida. If they caught him with a bulldozer and couldn't have pursued him through it he wasn't going far. Find two desk jockeys to sit by the side of the road in the AC drinking a big pitcher of lemonade all day. Maybe have them get out, check and repack the first aid kit in plain view a couple of times.

  • Huh18?||

    Pennsylvania, but cops will be cops

  • ||

    Pennsylvania, but cops will be cops

    Actually, I had it in my head that it was Florida because there are places in N. America where you don't want to just go tromping off into the undergrowth. IMO, Pennsylvania isn't one of those places.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Death penalty for co-owning 10 pot plants = death penalty for 5 pot plants...

    Jeff Sessions approves!!!

  • Longtobefree||

    Maybe approves with reservations; like that is way too lenient.

  • ||

    Sorry to be a little off topic here, but I'm reminded of a friend of a friend story. No one especially the Florida Highway Patrol managed to put two and two together. Trooper Joseph Cameron, being utterly reckless managed to run over a young lady as passenger in a mundane traffic stop, and has yet to face any repercussions. The outcome for Amy Josephine Kuehn was pretty grim both literally and figuratively.

  • Hank Phillips||

    First Responders™ 1, Amy 0. Florida is another shoot-first prohibitionist State, no?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...the bulldozer was clearing a path through the underbrush when the state trooper on the bulldozer told the worker to stop.

    Any word on who told the worker to start in the first place?

  • Huh18?||

    Im guessing it was the cops on the scene that made the call.

  • Longtobefree||

    So maybe back to foot patrols, as a safety measure?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its the absurdity of the Nanny and Police State. It just happens to be an incident over marijuana.

    This is murder. The cop was acting in a reckless manner and either the guy was going to get away or someone was going to get hurt.

    A guy got smushed by a bulldozer.

    Its fucking homicide and 2nd Degree murder or voluntary manslaughter at the most lenient.

  • IceTrey||

    True story, my college girlfriend's father was run over and killed by a bulldozer while clearing land for his hunting club.

  • MarkLastname||

    He probably shouldn't have.... dozed off.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What a bunch of bull....

  • Reshufflex||

    They called in a helicopter? Apache or V-22? Praise the lord. One can never be too safe in those Berks Co./PA state gamelands. Hell, there are deer, fox, rabbit and squirrels running amok; and often the Amish are spotted nearby using horses to plow the fields. Indeed, some of them have beards and wear straw hats.

    The PSP did the right thing and disrupted a potential narcotics ring. Bulldozing eliminates both the drug and the farmer of the drug.

  • Jerryskids||

    My only question is what the bulldozer operator plans on doing next time he sees a suspicious car. Never call the cops unless you want somebody killed and you don't much care if it's you.

  • Brandybuck||

    ""A trooper jumped onto the bulldozer and used it with the state worker to try to chase the grower.""

    Does not sound like an accident to me. Definitely manslaughter on the part of the police.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Mens reas.

  • Arcxjo||

    So just anyone can drive a bulldozer, you don't need and special license?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I fucking hate the police.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The police would lick the polish of your shoes if the politicians legislated to that effect. Try voting libertarian if you want to get rid of bad laws and discourage police criminality.

  • ||

    10 plants for personal use? Come on do not quote bullshit. Do proper reporting. I want it legal but you are asking the pastor if he believes in god. Quote non bias people. At least in the subject at hand.

  • marshaul||

    Just because 10 is 5 higher than you can count doesn't automatically make it a big number in context.

    Think tomato plants. If your neighbor had 10 tomato plants, would you assume he was farming tomatoes for profit?

  • Malvolio||

    How high was this guy he couldn't outrun a bulldozer?

  • Robert||

    That's what I don't get. You lose somebody in brush, you think you can catch up w him in a bulldozer?! I don't know how this guy died, but it seems to me everybody had to have been partly at fault: about-to-die guy, cop, operator.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I predict a mighty battle between their unions.

  • kcuch||

    The helicopter had IR or Thermal Sensors but could only direct the cops to "the clump of trees over on the right". The cop(s) didn't want to break brush and commandeered a dozer and conscripted a citizen to work their way through the brambles to flush out the contumant civilian. The cop being outboard of center line, was hoping to get an opening for a clear shot.

    The farmer crawled deep into the weeds, kicked a resting 8 point buck out of his bed, and climbed in where he became drowsy and nodded off. The dozer clanked into the gulley and the guy decided to hold still like a quail and only flush if the hunters stepped on him.

    At the last moment, the man got snagged on a branch and the mechanized infantry bore down on him before he could cut his trousers free.

    Filled in the details for you.

  • Mindscape||

    A few corrections to that headlineL Man fleeing police is killed while staying still as a bulldozer operated by a state worker runs over him.

    Calling this a police kill is ludicrous. This wasn't about marijuana plants. One suspect didn't run and was fine. Bad things happen when you try to run from the police. What kind of moron stays in place while a bulldozer runs toward him? Is it that hard to get up and move out of the way? Score one for Darwinism.

  • marshaul||

    I think you're in the wrong comments section. Maybe Jeff Sessions blog is where you meant to post?

  • perlchpr||

    The penalty is always death.

  • Huh18?||

    Sad. Now poor Mr. Light is looking at a felony homicide charge. Watch the cops put his death on the Light guy. Such a waste of resources, time and energy. The trail of shattered(and/or dead) lives the "war" on drugs has left, maybe our greatest national fuck up ever.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Hey, that's how Their Brothers' Keepers show their Brotherly Tough Love. Crushing potheads with heavy equipment is what Jesus would do, just as His minions shot motorists over light beer in the 1920--until the Liberal Party platform plank on repeal was adopted by the Dems. Let's face it, the victim was messing with the wrong kind of plant leaves so the officers were duty-bound to initiate deadly force to uphold the Law passed by recipients of the Nixon Anti-Libertarian campaign subsidies law. What could be fairer?

  • Benitacanova||

    Don't run from cops. Ever.

  • kcuch||

    No. stand and deliver superior fire.

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