More Outrage in Rachel Hoffman's Murder

Nov 03, 2008

drug war, law enforcement, Prohibition, victims

Every time I think the murder of 22-year-old Rachel Hoffman couldn't get more repulsive, new details emerge suggesting there's no end to the incompetence, recklessness, and misplaced values of the officers who caused her death.

The young woman – whom the Tallahassee Police Department recruited as a confidential informant after threatening her with a marijuana charge – was murdered by the drug dealers she'd been sent to ensnare in a sting operation.

One of the many confounding aspects of the case to me was why they would send Rachel to buy not just an uncharacteristically large amount of drugs, but a gun as well. She had never been in legal trouble for anything except a couple relatively low-level drug offenses mostly involving marijuana, and she had absolutely no history of violence.

It now appears she suggested purchasing the gun herself because the cops had led her to believe a more high-profile bust would mean the end of her obligations as a CI, and that she would then be allowed to move on with her life.

The officer supervising her CI activities also continues to stick to his dubious claim that Rachel was a big-time drug dealer making $26,000 a week, even though her friends say they never saw her with that kind of cash or drugs, and her dad still paid her rent. Curiously, the officer also said he trusted her with the money she was given for the sting operation because she was a "very religious, family-oriented girl," and that stealing would have been out of character for her.

I suspect that Rachel's handlers in the Tallahassee Police Department knew she wasn't really a criminal in any practical sense. She was just an unlucky soul who got caught up in the ridiculously wide net created by our marijuana laws. In our cruel system, that means those sworn to protect her were now entitled to exploit her, and that she had forfeited her claim to our most basic civil right: life.