This kind of situation arises often enough in drug arrests: a person in a vehicle containing drugs is arrested for possession, though it is initially unclear to whom the drugs really belong. In a recent and tragic case in St. Paul, a 20-year-old man was arrested for drug possession after witnessing police officers fatally shoot his uncle.
The cops claim the 41-year-old uncle, who had a criminal record dating back a couple of decades, tried to use his vehicle as a weapon when police stormed in to make a drug arrest. Minneapolis and St. Paul police teamed up in this particular investigation.
The unmarked police cars involved in the arrest didn’t have cameras installed in them, so there is no video of the alleged vehicular attack by the otherwise unarmed uncle. Still, police fatally shot him at the scene, and according to a report from Minneapolis police, the 20-year-old nephew “was extremely emotional and was screaming about his uncle being shot.”
One officer claims to have seen the young man, who was apparently knocked off of his feet after the shooting, drop a bag of suspected crack cocaine outside of the vehicle. The cop claims the suspect then placed his foot on top of the package. When the officer made the young man move his foot, the small package was revealed. More cocaine was found in the vehicle.
The 20-year-old has already said the drugs weren’t his, and it remains to be seen whether prosecutors can prove otherwise. Authorities would like us to believe that police officers never make mistakes, but that simply isn’t the case. Anyone who has been accused of a drug crime should consult with a criminal defense attorney who will fight the charges and call the prosecutor’s claims into question.
Source: Pioneer Press, “St. Paul Police shooting: NAACP questions official version,” Mara H. Gottfried, Oct. 26, 2012