A few weeks ago we covered the story of a man suspected of growing cannabis on state land being crushed after law enforcement decided to commandeer a bulldozer for use in pursuit. At the time, I described the incident as follows:
According to various and somewhat unclear reports, Longenecker and an accomplice were found with 10 marijuana plants that were being grown on state land after the above-mentioned Game Commission worker called authorities about a strange vehicle parked near where he was clearing some brush. When discovered, Longenecker ran and hid in some brush that had not been cleared and was lost sight of by the helicopter. This caused the pursuing trooper and bulldozer operator to not see Longenecker until he was crushed under the bulldozer.
Now comes word that the incident has been deemed by authorities to have been an accident. District Attorney John Adams concluded that the search was “reasonable and conducted in a safe manner.”
According to the D.A.’s report, the bulldozer carrying a Game Commission employee and a state trooper took a “slow methodical indirect path towards the suspect,” when pursuing him through the underbrush. During a pause in the pursuit, the D.A. said that Longenecker (according to the autopsy) placed himself between the treads of the bulldozer so that, when pursuit was resumed, he was crushed.
Also according to the autopsy, Longenecker was not only under the influence of cannabis at the time, but also had toxic levels of methadone and methamphetamine in his system, which might go a long way in explaining such seemingly stupid behavior.
If the D.A. has described an accurate summary of what happened that night, then there is no question that the suspect made a series of fatally bad decisions. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that authorities used a bulldozer and a helicopter to chase a man suspected of growing 10 marijuana plants – something he could have received a sentence of only probation for if he had been apprehended alive.
A combination of police overkill and suspect stupidity led to the sad and avoidable death of a human being, a scenario that has played out countless times in the battle between law enforcement and a plant. The war on marijuana has ruined millions of lives and created an incredible amount of tension between citizens and law enforcement. No one is better off and many people – including Mr. Longenecker – are much worse off because of the government’s futile attempts at stopping cannabis consumption.