Editor's note: This is the second of an occasional series, "Death
on Arrival," documenting lethal abuses in America's war on drugs.
© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.
Remember that crime prevention slogan, "Take a bite out of crime"?
Well, in Lebanon, Tenn., the police just took a bite out of an innocent
At 10 p.m., Wednesday evening, about the only thing 64-year-old John
Adams was interested in doing was relaxing in his easy chair and
catching a bit of TV; little did he know that a handful of Lebanon
police officers were standing outside his door getting ready to cancel
TRENDING: AI's real target
The various accounts, as presented by the local CBS affiliate,
NewsChannel 5, and the Nashville Tennessean, jive on the fatally short
order of events: After hearing knocking at the door, John's wife,
Loriane, went to answer. There was no reply when she asked for
identification. As she stood there, the door was kicked in and five
officers stormed the house, immediately cuffing Loriane.
John wasn't so lucky.
While there is some dispute as to whether John actually fired at
police, family members say he believed the raid to be a home-invasion
robbery and police claim that, as officers rounded the corner into the
room where he sat, John discharged a shotgun. Officers Kyle Shedran and
Greg Day, both in their mid-20s, were forced to fire back, according to
John didn't live through the night, dying in surgery at Vanderbilt
University Medical Center.
But, as tragic as the encounter was, it turns out to be much worse.
Police got the wrong house and shot the wrong man.
Despite Adams' address appearing on the search warrant, the
description of Adams' home and the warranted house did not match. "It
was a severe, costly mistake," said Lebanon Police Chief Billy Weeks
after the incident. "They were not the target of our investigation."
The police, plain and simple, buggered big time.
Officers were, apparently, looking for somebody at the house next
door. According to Weeks, the intended house was under surveillance
and, as the Tennessean reported, "a drug purchase had been made from one
of the residents. ... That was the basis for the warrant."
So, if police went to all the trouble to spy on the house and supply
probable cause that a crime had indeed been committed, as the Fourth
Amendment requires, what happened? How'd they raid the wrong house?
How hard and time-consuming would it have been to double check the
address and house description?
Police should be both embarrassed and ashamed that -- with only two
houses on the whole block, mind you -- they picked the wrong one. How?
Worse still, according to Weeks, one of the officers who had surveilled
the actual house where the drug purchase occurred also
participated in the raid. How did he miss it? He was at both
houses, for Pete's sake! Couldn't he tell the difference?
You'd think that -- knowing lethal force may have to be used,
endangering both officers and suspects -- police would adequately
investigate before hitting the start gate. The apparent negligence of
officers in this case is so egregious and obscene it's almost funny --
until you remember that John Adams got KO'd with the punchline.
Adams' friend and former County Commissioner Natchel Palmer said it
best: "Why do you have to die because somebody doesn't know what they
are doing? ... They killed him for nothing."
"They got the wrong damn house and killed my friend."
Doubtless, other friends will die. "I do know," said the director of
the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice, Timothy Lynch, about a
similar case, "that if these kinds of tactics are not checked in some way, it will continue."
So the question is, whose friend will be next?
If you have any stories or information about drug-war victims, feel free to
forward them to Joel
"Gunning for Juan" Police swept down on the Fernandez household, putting wife and granddaughter at risk and killing Juan.
"The problem with drug raids" No-knock raids violate the Fourth Amendment and endanger liberty.