A pothead and occasional seller in Las Vegas, let's call him "Vegas Cole," is sitting with his pregnant fiance on a Friday night watching TV. Police bust down the door and shoot and kill him.
Just another day in the drug war, right? Police did find a small amount a weed, a digital scale, and $702 in cash. So what's the problem?
Vegas Cole was unarmed, no guns were found, and his fiance says the money was rent money. Rent money? Yeah, right. I've heard that one before. But you know what I never saw from a drug dealer? A receipt. The fiance actually had a receipt for half the money. From a pawn shop. She pawned her jewelry a few days earlier for $305. Oh. I guess they had money troubles.
The Las Vegas Journal Review says:
[Vegas] Cole, 21, was unarmed when he was killed by a single rifle round fired by Detective Bryan Yant, who a week before the raid swore under oath that Cole had a "lengthy criminal history of narcotics sales, trafficking and possession charges" in Houston and Los Angeles.So Yant wasn't too good at dotting the I's and crossing the T's. It's an understandably mistake, right? Just seven years, three inches, 100 pounds, and a different middle name? Seriously, how can a professional police officer confuse these guys. What in the world do these two black men have in common? ...Oh.
But [Vegas] Cole's record in his native California was limited to a conviction for misdemeanor unlawful taking of a vehicle. He probably never even visited Houston.
Investigators might have confused him with another Trevon Cole [let's call him, Texas Trevon]-- one with a different middle name who is seven years older, at least three inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter, records show. That [Texas] Trevon Cole has several marijuana-related arrests in Houston, all misdemeanors
So Yant is investigating Vegas Cole because he thinks he's Texas Trevon, who is supposedly is a big-time dealer, but actually isn't. It gets better (Or I guess you could say worse... if you're some party pooper who care about dead people). According to the affidavit:
Undercover detectives had bought ... a total of 1.8 ounces for $840$465 an ounce for Nevada ditch weed?! Are you f*cking kidding me? The officers were offering perhaps a ten-times markup to buy grass that is barely criminal to possess in Nevada? 1.8 ounces weighs less than 1/4 cup of sugar.
Also, says Phil Smith of Drug War Chronicle, according to the warrant:
when police wanted to make a big score -- $400 worth -- ... they had to reschedule because Cole didn't have that much on hand.This borders on entrapment. You offer me $400 an ounce for any old shit and I just might make a few calls and go into business. And I got a job. Vegas Cole's pregnant fiance was hawking her jewelry to make ends meet!
Well, Cole is still a criminal, right? Nobody forced this man to accept the offer of easy money law enforcement dangled in front of him. And who knows, maybe neighbors were complaining. And policing is dangerous work. It's not like Yant, who wrote the warrant and pulled the trigger, has a record of being trigger happy or anything. Oh, wait. This is the third police-involved shootings for Yant. Two of them fatal. There is good news. At least for Yant. Of the past 200 fatal police-involved shootings in Vegas--a rate of killing about 50% higher than the NYPD--only one has been found to be criminally bad.