Tragic Death Blamed On Marijuana That Wasn’t There

ReddieThe headline says, “Father Killed in Marijuana Child Removal Incident“. The problem, both for police and the public, is that the autopsy showed no marijuana (or alcohol) in the decedent’s system.

It plays out like a poorly written drama. Police are called to a domestic disturbance and the officers claim they smelled the odor of marijuana while there. No arrests are made at the time, either for marijuana or domestic violence. However, the cops see there is a three year-old in the home and after they leave, they contact Child Protective Services.

The child welfare folks use the “odor of marijuana” and an allegation that the father smoked weed in front of his child as grounds to get a removal order. They go to the apartment to take the child, accompanied by officers. Here’s where it all goes sideways.

The father, upset about the removal order, shows a knife. He reacted badly when he was accused of smoking marijuana earlier by police and that’s primarily why the cops were there – violence was expected. According to reports, the father lunged at police with a pocket knife. Bad decision on his part. The police, which already had tasers drawn, holstered them when they first saw the knife, drawing their service weapons instead. When the victim lunged at them, they shot him.

The autopsy showed no marijuana use and the whole incident is under investigation.

It would be simplistic to blame the cops or Child Protective Services. The order for the child’s removal stated, in part: “There are reasonable grounds for this court to remove the child(ren) from the parent… because conditions or surroundings of the child(ren), and is contrary to the welfare of the child(ren) to remain in the home because: It is alleged that the father used marijuana in the home in the presence of the child. In addition, there is concern for the safety of the child due to a domestic disturbance and threats made toward law enforcement by the father.”

To add to the tragedy, the father had been seeking custody of the child and was due in court in three days to get a ruling on the matter. Having the police show up earlier, and then CSP, meant he would likely not get the custody he sought.

The only thing we can say for sure is that no one wanted this outcome, but each player in the drama seemed trapped – either by their jobs or because they were emotionally invested in the welfare of the child. Everybody loses here.

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