Vice Squad
Friday, March 12, 2004
Recent Drug War Killings

This week's Drug War Chronicle provides an update on three drug war deaths of recent months:

"On December 10 [in Columbus, Georgia], Kenneth Walker, a 39-year-old black professional and family man, was riding in an SUV with friends when their vehicle was pulled over by police doing a drug investigation ( Walker ended up dead with a bullet wound to the head. No drugs or weapons were found in the vehicle.

Three weeks later, on January 3, 19-year-old Michael Newby, a black resident of Louisville's predominantly black West Side, was killed by a Louisville police officer during an undercover drug buy ( Officer McKenzie Mattingly said he shot Newby in self-defense during a scuffle, but the fact that Newby was shot in the back has raised numerous questions, as well as tempers in the black community -- some of whose members engaged in a mini-riot, breaking the windows of the police chief's office and tangling with riot police, a week after the shooting.

Then, on February 17, Oakland resident Rudolfo Cardenas was and killed by a California narcotics officer attempting to serve a parole violation warrant ( But Cardenas wasn't the man the cops were looking for. The 43-year-old ex-con just happened to pass by the house targeted by police and fled for unknown reasons. Police chased him in vehicles and then on foot. Cardenas died in an alleyway, shot in the back repeatedly. No drugs or weapons were found, although police initially claimed he pointed a digital scale at them."

These shootings are tragedies for the victims, their friends and families, the communities -- and for the police, as well. Back to Clarence Darrow again, on alcohol Prohibition: "No other statute is openly enforced with guns and revolvers. For no other minor offense can officers with impunity shoot down a human being in seeking to make an arrest."

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