On May 12, 1996, Miami police raided the home of Richard Brown on a false tip that the 73-year-old retiree with no criminal record was selling drugs. After busting the door open, police claim that Richards began firing a gun, prompting officers to pump 123 rounds into his body.
However, a later investigation revealed that the gun police allege Brown had used had no traces of his fingerprints on them. Brown’s 14-year-old great-granddaughter, Janeka, reported he was not holding a gun when he instructed her to take shelter in a bathroom moments before he was killed.
Sadly, Brown is just one of countless victims of the war on drugs, a federal policy push that has squandered billions of dollars overcrowding America’s prisons, militarizing state and local police, and making no measurable impact reducing drug abuse. It’s time for Americans to stand up against this failed policy as taxpayers and, more important, human beings.
Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security alone has spent $34 billion in federal grants for state and local police departments to purchase paramilitarylike equipment, including tanks and assault rifles. While the circumstances surrounding Brown’s raid may seem unique, mistakes are commonly made in SWAT operations. By the Cato Institute’s count, there have been 14 raids on innocent suspects in Florida over the past three decades, three of which have ended in death.