Beaten to Death By Cops Over a Marijuana Cigarette?

Feb 01, 2010 , ,

On November 25, 45-year-old Kenneth R. Howe was riding in the passenger seat of a truck that was stopped by police at a sobriety checkpoint in North Andover, Massachusetts. Hours later, he was dead. The cause has been ruled a homicide, from injuries suffered while Howe “struggled with police.”

What exactly happened that night is a matter of dispute, and the subject of a federal lawsuit filed last week against state, city and county police, claiming that police officers beat Howe to death.

Family members and a fellow passenger say Howe, a father and husband, had lit a marijuana cigarette a few moments earlier and was trying to put it out as police pulled over the truck. When police saw the marijuana cigarette, the fellow passenger says, officers pulled Howe out of the vehicle.

Police claim Howe dove out of the truck’s window and assaulted a female officer.

One way or another, a struggle ensued, Howe was arrested, placed into the back of a police cruiser, and taken to the state police barracks. While waiting in a booking room, Howe slumped over, became unresponsive, and was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

After an autopsy, the state’s chief medical examiner concluded that Howe’s death resulted from “blunt impact of head and torso with compression of chest” suffered when he “struggled with police.”

If the claims made in the federal lawsuit are to be believed, why would police lay their hands on someone for putting out a marijuana cigarette—something that Massachusetts voters have decided should carry a penalty of no more than a $100 fine! Howe was a passenger in the vehicle, so there wasn’t even a question about him driving under the influence. And if the police are to be believed, and Howe was truly trying to flee the scene, then he most likely did so only out of fear of punishment from having the marijuana.

Either way, there is no reason—none whatsoever—why Mr. Howe should be dead, and his family deprived of a husband and father.

How many more tragedies like this need to occur before politicians realize that our marijuana laws do far more harm than good?

25 responses to “Beaten to Death By Cops Over a Marijuana Cigarette?”

  1. Bless Mr. Howe and his now fatherless/husbandless family.
    I pray that the full extent of the law, are laid upon the cops that did this.

    Please convict them, and have them placed in the prisons General Population section!

  2. We have no other choice but to legalize. I was raided, not beaten. I was lucky. I was for med mj across America. Now I am for legalization. Those cops should be in prison. This man was beaten to death like so many others by cops, protecting us from ourselves. We hear about cops killing regular people for weed. We hear about the thousands of people being killed by drug cartels over weed. We hear about the billions of american dollers going south of the Mexican border. The day we legalize weed all of this will stop instantly. The DEA knows this. Every one in a gov. office knows this. Their goal is to get rich and the only way to keep all the funding and spoils of war is to keep weed illegal. FREE the WEED and you FREE the PEOPLE.

  3. First of all, my condolences to Howe’s family and friends for their tragic loss. Second, we need hard facts and as of right now it is under investigation/ hear say. Third, MPP and NORML need to flex their media muscles hard and fast! I have really been impressed with the soundness of MPP and NORML representatives and their arguments. They need to take this to the national media and pound their drum so damn hard it breaks and when it breaks, pick up another one! PROTEST PEOPLE! If what they say is true about Mr. Howe then he is the next Rodney King. Now dont go riot but be peaceful, firm and direct.

  4. This is sad!

    Things will change one day, whether by legislation, the same brute force that has been used on us for the past century, or by mass revolution and the bloodshed that accompanies.

    America is my home and I will not live or die in fear! I will fight for my freedom as this man righteously may have chosen to do.

  5. It’s unfortunate that the details of this incident are not available. What’s even more unfortunate is a life lost for no reason and without any justification.
    “Police claim Howe dove out of the truck’s window and assaulted a female officer.” Somehow I’m pretty sure that the female officer is absolutely fine and probably not even bruised. When are cops going to stop using female officers as an excuse for excessive force.
    Wasn’t it too long ago that a female officer was attacked by some enraged dude with a chair and the female officer ended up shooting the guy?
    My condolences to Howe’s family and all the families that lost a loved one because of police brutality and unjust laws.
    Free The Weed. Free The People.

  6. I was eating with a co-worker one day, and we noticed that a police officer was parked across the street and he turned to me and said, ” Police are supposed to serve and protect, but everytime they’re around me i get scared”. I didn’t really think to much about it, but after reading stories like this it makes me wonder how police officers can beat the shit out of you and get away with it. Sad times is all i have to say. R.I.P Kenneth R.

  7. Marijuana prohibition has been a total failure and is perhaps this country’s greatest mistake. Not only has it created criminals out of nearly a third of the country’s populace, it costs our society billions of dollars every year, creates a strain on our prison system, and has little or no effect on marijuana use in the US. In some cases, prosecuting marijuana use has turned non-violent, middle class kids into violent and unpredictable, career criminals. Once a person has a criminal conviction on their record, they are far less likely to find a good job and become a useful member of society. Other countries with more liberal drug laws have much lower rates of drug addiction among their people. I invite you to my web-page devoted to raising awareness on the assault on our civil liberties:

  8. I still haven’t heard anything about the murder of a female inmate who was sentenced for two weeks in a Harris County jail in Texas last year over a small possession of marijuana?
    That is probably why marijuana is dangerous because of the law.

  9. FFS !!! He died because he was afraid of the police and the law.

    When people fear the government there is tyranny.
    When the government fears the people there is liberty/freedom.

    So what do we have here people? Now dont all answer at once !!

    We have special forces on trial for giving a terriorts a fat lip. How much you want to bet they dont get off this charge.

    Some cops kill a citizen and are being charged, how much you wannt to bet they get away with it?

    Tyranny anyone?

  10. what…the…hell? this makes no sense. if its just a 100 dollar fine, why would he resist or try to run? why was he taken to jail in the first place? im…so confused about this. umm….wow.

  11. This maybe why the next generation will have an increased lack of respect for the law and the people who inforce the law.

    CK, my buddy and i were in my front yard and a police car rolled by, my buddy said “feel safer?”. Hell no!!! Why am i afraid of them!! They should be afraid of us!!!

    I have no respect for the police, even the ones i have meet and played horse shoes with or drank a pint with, i still only trust them as far as i can throw them.

  12. Many speculations can be made over what happened that night. What this sounds like is that the police are try to make marijuana look as if it makes you violent(Hint: Reefer Madness).

  13. This is pure police brutality, One way or another these law breaking lawmen will pay the price…I hope they see his face everytime they try to make love to there women and everythime they try to have fun with there children!!!

  14. now if he really did attack police (wich i doubt) then they had every right to beat the hell out of him, but that doesn’t seem likely, why resist arrest when there is no grounds for arrest?! If the cops are found guilty everyone knows they will get a slap on the wrist, suspension with pay. this whole thing doesn’t seem right

  15. sad sad sad. my heart goes out to Mr. howes family. let’s see the video and make these cops who obivuosly have something personal againist marijuana users of any kind, ACCOUNTABLE. i am so tired of seeing our people get bashed and beatened and forgot about(MR.PRESIDENT!)
    our police officers should all have a degree of some type not just recruited out of high school. these cops who try to relive there glory days or try to make new ones by makeing a “jaded” difference. i can’t believe our leaders let this go on. just because cops are assaulted in other states, it seems like they have to stick together and rebound from the injuries or abuse to “thier” originization in other states. they meet together(the police) the have retreats together and i think this creates a distant from real people they are suppose to protect. i think the police test should be harder and an even more extreme mental evaulation! TO MANY cops think there title makes them god! judge and juror! you can’t tell me this is the best we can do?! god bless mr. howe and to your family. 🙁

  16. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!! WHAT IS THIS? WYATT EARP DAYS!!?? The local government needs to be inundated with letters/calls of outrage! This is unforgivable!!

  17. You want to know why? Is we let them get away with beating and killing us it doesnt have a thing to do with color their killing us and getting away with it!!!!!!!!! The point is this man lost his life because of out of control police officers. What danger did he poise getting the munchies and eatting a twinkie.

  18. God bless all smokers.
    The only thing illegal about cannabis is the legislation that controls it, and the brainless sheep that enforce it. They will pay for their sins. Gods gifts are not to be regulated, they are to be celebrated.

  19. my condolences to Howe’s family, He should be alive today, this should have never happened. I need to tell as many people as possible this story. I witness the rampart scandal and witnessed cops killing cops, cops selling drugs, cops hired for murder, they tried to murder me many times this started in 1997 and still goes on today. I’m 34 and this year a man walked in my house and tried to choke me to death I over powered him and he ran out the back door, last week a LA county corner car pulled up to me called me by name and said in front of my kids your going to died by us. My record should be clean but the cops have put things on my record that shouldn’t be on my record. they have left weapons in my house, they have kidnapped me before, they have killed a police officer in front of me. help me, I’m going to died soon I know it, know one out there cares, or doesn’t know how to help I’m james murphy please help I’m scared has hell I don’t want my family to get hurt.

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