In a shocking series of events that is still under investigation, Las Vegas police on Friday shot and killed Trevon Cole, 21, while serving a warrant that claimed Cole was selling marijuana. According to reports, Cole’s 20-year-old fiancé, Sequioa Pearce—who is 9 months pregnant—was forced to kneel and held at gunpoint in the moments just before Cole was shot.
A police spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that undercover officers had bought marijuana from Cole three times before the warrant was served, and investigators reportedly took an unknown amount of marijuana and digital scales from his home. Pearce, his fiancé, says Cole, who has no criminal record, “did smoke marijuana from time to time,” but was not a drug dealer.
The officer who shot Cole is a 10-year veteran who the Review-Journal reports has been involved in other questionable shootings. Police said he fired his weapon on Cole after Cole made a “furtive movement,” which Pearce denies.
While police investigate the incident, Cole’s family remains shocked and in desperate need of an explanation. Writes the Review-Journal, “They had been preparing for a birth, not a death.”
"We were mentally prepped to know in June we were coming to Vegas to see the baby, to be here for the birth of the baby," said Cole's aunt, Kimeryn Williams. "Not for this."
I don’t need to tell readers how horrifying this episode is. As with other notorious drug raids that have come to light, there are obvious questions here that need asking:
• Did Cole pose such a threat to public safety that officers had to break through his door with guns drawn?
• Why were such forceful tactics used to arrest someone that police claim—at the very best—was a smalltime marijuana dealer?
• How much money and police resources were spent to raid Cole’s home and murder him in front of the mother of his unborn child?
• Were there no murders, rapes, robberies or more serious crimes occurring in Vegas on a Friday night that these officers could have been working to prevent or solve?
The message people need to take from this stomach-turning incident is the one MPP broadcasts over and over again: Marijuana does not kill people, but prohibition does. If marijuana were sold in a legal and regulated market, tragedies like this would cease to exist and police could better spend their time dealing with crimes more serious than the possession of a substance safer than alcohol.
There should be many developments on this story, so please stay tuned to the blog for updates.