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Jan-12-2012 10:31printcomments

Police Marijuana Raid Turns Deadly; Prosecutor Seeks to Employ NDAA?

"There is no time frame or deadline for filing charges" - Weber County Attorney Dee Smith

Matthew David Stewart
Matthew David Stewart

(SALEM) - A most poignant, striking, and fatally stupid example of the failure of marijuana laws happened in Utah last week. The death of one undercover police officer and the wounding of several others in Odgen, leaves a U.S. veteran facing the death penalty; it is both shocking and a complete and total result of the police work that is not well thought-out.

As long as police in this country think they have a legal right to kick in a person's door and place that person and their family at risk, rather than taking a humane approach without violence, they are serving immoral law. These cops might as well have served under Lt. William Calley in Vietnam; you know, the guy who led the raid on the My Lai village that left hundreds of civilians raped and murdered.

Just Following Orders

Here is what went down in Utah: Matthew David Stewart, who is 37-years old, is an Army veteran that suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is employed and works an overnight shift at a local WalMart.

According to reports, he apparently grows medical marijuana to help cope with the effects of PTSD, which he manages to do without the use of any other drugs.

The Daily Chronic wrote:

We know that at about 8:40 pm last Wednesday, January 5, twelve members of the the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force forced entry into the home of Matthew David Stewart, 37, while serving a search warrant, believing he was growing marijuana. Then, there was a firefight, which left 7-year police veteran Agent Jared Francom dead, and five other officers wounded. Also injured in the gunfight was home owner, Matthew David Stewart
- VICTIM or VILLAIN? Was Matthew Stewart Defending His Home, or Should He Face Execution for Killing a Cop?

A state famous for religious and conservative politics, Utah is defined for many Americans by one memorable interview with a Utah Highway Patrolman who said Utah police look for 'Grateful Dead bears' when seeking potential vehicles to pull over.

They care about your rights as much as they care about jumping off a cliff. So let's face it, Utah's politics are so right-wing, the state is like the Attila the Hun of U.S. Politics, like Arizona, the spirit of the place is so foreign to U.S. morals and ideals like "civil rights" that it numbs the senses to consider. So it should be no surprise that sense has no bearing on laws that not only make marijuana illegal, but lead to violent 'door-kicking' raids by tactical police.

This incident left Ogden Police officer Jared Francom dead, and five other officers wounded. How one could find a more definitive example of why these rogue SWAT tactics and marijuana are a bad mix?

Stewart's Criminal Past

Even though his character is being slaughtered by the prosecutor so busy building his case, it sounds like Utah officials have a pot-smoking WalMart employee on their hands who knows how to defend his home. Those set to prosecute him are now portraying Stewart as a mad terrorist over a photo of him wearing a Halloween outfit. Let's remember that he in no way provoked the police into this attack.

In the past, police would have placed a couple of officers in front of the house and waited for the guy to eventually come out. This guy had no criminal past, of course the police knew this.

What they thought they had, was a little kick-ass training exercise with a live person. They believed they had an 'opportunity' to get some aggression out and attack another pot smoker, almost all of whom are not armed. However they say those who live by the sword often die by the sword and it is tragic that such gutless, failed attempts at police work are wasted on our citizenry. But then this isn't the first time this 'task force' has performed similar tactics.

Again, from the The Daily Chronic:

Oh yeah, and it’s not like the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force have never been the center of controversy surrounding a search. In September, 2010, they shot and killed 45 year old Todd Blair within the first few seconds of a no-knock raid on his home, which turned up only a small amount of marijuana.

Beyond that, Stewart had apparently been cited about three years ago for driving without valid insurance, not exactly what places a person in a criminal category. Even if he was suspected of growing this natural plant that so bitterly offends Utah officials, their blunder was needless and more than costly.

City Reaction

Mike Caldwell, the Ogden City Mayor, says an event of this magnitude is a humbling experience. He said he expressed his sincerest sympathy to all those involved with deep sadness and a heavy heart.

Last night I had the privilege of watching our fine men and women of the police department in what can only be describe as their darkest hour conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity. I am honored to be associated with such a fine group of individuals.

I know many others of you have had the opportunity to cross paths with Agent Jared Francom, Agent Shawn Grogan, Kasey Burrell, Michael Rounkles, Sgt. Nate Hutchinson, and Agent Jason Vanderworf and that this single selfish event will have far reaching affects. Know that I recognize how difficult it is for many of you at this time.
- Ogden City Mayor Message to the City

Caldwell concluded by asking for prayers for, "... our police, fire, EMS, and dispatchers". My question is, why not call for prayer that is broader and more inclusive of all people?

Any time police officers die or are seriously hurt, it deals a tremendous blow to people in this country; a ripple effect ensues and police share a common anger. However I have to question whether this case is the same; the very idea of what happened to this American Veteran haunts most U.S. citizens in their hearts; it chills them to the bone to consider having their own version of this confrontation...

One story references, " ...the speculation that Stewart was asleep, or possibly in the shower when police knocked at the door". It begs the question, what would you do if you were awakened suddenly to the jarring sound of men kicking your door in? What if he had slept with the TV or stereo on? What happened was totally and completely unnecessary.

There is no grander, more in-your-face power-trip form of "invasion of privacy" than this case in Utah, where Mr. Stewart both took a life and now faces losing his own, strictly due to the obscene choices in tactics made in Odgen by the 'Weber-Morgan' Narcotics Strike Force.

Of course Mike Caldwell is in office, leading this place with laws that allow police to act like stormtroopers; where veterans get no recognition, only grief. Stewart is now looking at the death penalty, for God's sake the man was sleeping! The government sure knows how to create a martyr and a human symbol against police abuse and overly ridiculous aggression and violence.

If Stewart is killed and this standard is allowed to be set, then it is a major victory for this government so intent on literally striking your rights from the record, as it did so willingly recently with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which allows Americans to be held in detention indefinitely without charges.

And on that note, an article by the Standard-Examiner, referenced Weber County Attorney Dee Smith saying, "Stewart will be booked into Weber County Jail once he is released from the hospital, a decision that is up to medical personnel".

But then prosecutor Smith added, "There is no time frame or deadline for filing charges". Now, why would that be? Aren't people afforded certain rights in the United States? Oh wait, it looks like Matthew Stewart may be the first public victim of the NDAA.

In a recent article carried by Salem-News.com, writer Ralph Lopez wrote:

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S citizens:

'a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed...'

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA 2011) permanently abolishes the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, "for the duration of hostilities" in the War on Terror, which was defined by President George W. Bush as 'task which does not end' to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.
- Montanans Launch Recall of Senators Who Approved NDAA Military Detention. Merry Christmas, US Senate

Matthew Stewart was an “Army Airborne” soldier, indicating that he had specialized military training and qualifications. During his service he received both the Army Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, which ironically symbolizes Bush's never-ending 'war on terror' that apparently now means he is no longer a human being with rights. I have not confirmed whether this bout of bungled police work has caused the NDAA to be invoked, but it looks like that is probably the case.

Dying for a Natural Plant

The drug war is a total failure and it is sad that the police will ignore this at all costs. Marijuana: it's a plant that was grown and smoked by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Even Abe Lincoln was quoted about his fondness of smoking cannabis. The extreme irony with this violent police approach to a plant, is that the Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper.

The plant was demonized by the U.S. Hearst Newspaper chain in the early part of the 20th century and outlawed by 1937 so that Dow Chemical could bring its new "synthetic rope" forward. Marijuana/hemp is one of the strongest fibers in the world and was always a favorite for parachute rope.

It grows naturally, it's never killed anyone, and according to our own Dr. Phil Leveque, who treated thousands of patients for PTSD, it is a far better alternative for PTSD sufferers, than the highly addictive morphine-based drugs that the Veteran Administration doctors prescribe.

Some veterans who suffer from PTSD drink themselves to death. Pot is a mellow, simple herb that can be smoked or eaten. It helps people build appetites and has a wide range of medical uses.

Why a state or government can still be taking the approach of extreme violence at this point; whatever the answer may be, is a myth and does not carry with it a real justification. Police aren't exactly respected these days and this is why; I know it is terrible that so many people were hurt and that an officer, or 'agent' as he is described, died. That is really terrible, but he and the others should have refused the mission, and until that day comes, we are all in increasing trouble.

Of course the last time something very similar happened, it was in nearby Arizona, and that police raid over suspected illegal drugs wasn't even correct, they were running on bad information.

At the time of this terrible occurrence involving a Marine, I wrote:

Having survived two tours in Iraq, Marine combat veteran Jose Guereña in Arizona was gunned down in front of his family, inside of his own home, by the Pima Regional SWAT team earlier this month. They fired 71 rounds in seven seconds, striking him 60 times.

Then, to add insult to injury, the deputies under the command of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, blocked paramedics from approaching the scene for well over an hour, and of course that cut off any chance of Guereña surviving.

After all, it was only 60 police rounds that struck him, certainly the man was still dangerous.

Jose's wife, Vanessa Guereña, told reporters with KGUN Channel 9, "I was going to touch Jose because he was [moaning]," she said. "And I saw his stomach, and all the blood on the floor."

Officers did say that he drew a weapon and shot at them, and that was the only reason for "returning" fire on Mr. Guereña, which many people could understand, as that equates to self-defense.

But then it was discovered that this Marine veteran actually didn't fire; he never took his weapon off safety, probably because he realized they were police. Marines are the best riflemen in the world and their mistake ratio in combat is lower than other military combatants in the world.
- Arizona Cops Blast Marine Veteran to Death on Bad Information

For now, Matthew Stewart, "likely faces a charge of aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty, and additional charges of attempted aggravated murder", again according to prosecutor Dee Smith from the Weber County District Attorney's office. At this point he remains under police guard at Ogden Regional Medical Center.


Tim King, summer 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 101 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

End Israeli apartheid

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BullPasture January 16, 2012 12:31 pm (Pacific time)

Nice job laying this out. Over on the police one forum you cops calling for an automatic death penalty for shooting a cop. I don't hear them calling for the death penalty for the cops who murdered Tony Blair a year ago. The only solution is to end the insane war on drugs and restrict SWAT raids to situations where there is a clear record of armed violent behavior.

RCSlyman January 14, 2012 6:19 am (Pacific time)

He's not a victim of the NDAA for one simple reason - this wasn't the military coming into his home. Please don't turn the fight against that document and the fascists that passed it into a fearmonger conspiracy campaign that will start to get ignored by the public.

Anonymous January 11, 2012 2:10 pm (Pacific time)

I think I visit this website only for Tim Kings articles, and I like Dr Phil too.. Tim: as mentioned before, dont be distracted, let your heart and honesty abound my friend. We are lied to in so many different directions. Keep up exposing the lies, and pray for guidance to find the root of the lies.

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