May 30, 2013
Doug and Catherine Snodgrass were thrilled when their 17-year old son suddenly made a new friend at school. As it turns out, the “new friend” was an undercover cop who proceeded to convince the teen to sell him some weed and then arrested him in an undercover drug sting.
Doug Snodgrass explained that his son has Asperger’s and other disabilities which makes it difficult for him to make friends. Snodgrass told ABC News that his son had just recently enrolled at Chaparral High School in California and “He suddently had this friend who was texting him around the clock.”
What Snodgrass didn’t know was that “Daniel” was an undercover cop with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
“Daniel” developed a friendship with Snodgrass’ son and asked him to sell him his prescription medication. When the teen refused, “Daniel” gave him $20 and asked him to buy him some marijuana. Eventually, “Daniel” persuaded the teen, convincing him that he desperately needed the drug.
In December 2012, Snodgrass’ son was arrested along with 21 other students from three schools, all on various drug charges related to the undercover operation.
In January, a juvenile court judge ruled that there were extenuating circumstances in the case and sentenced Snodgrass to informal probation and 20 hours of community service, stating also that there was “no finding of guilt.”
In March, Judge Marian H. Tully ruled that the Temecula Valley Unified School District could not expel the teen, and that they had, in fact, failed to provide him with proper supervision while at school.
“Within three days of the officer’s requests, [the] student burned himself due to his anxiety,” Tully said. “Ultimately, the student was persuaded to buy marijuana for someone he thought was a friend who desperately needed this drug and brought it to school for him.”
Snodgrass says his son has been harassed by teachers who’ve given him multiple suspensions and threaten expulsion. “Our son was cleared of the criminal charge, but the school continued to try and expel him,” Snodgrass said.
The Snodgrasses are currently suing the school for unspecified damages, stating the school should have provided better protection for their son instead of participating in an undercover drug sting with local authorities that intentionally targeted and discriminated against their son.
Stephen Downing, a retired Deputy Chief of Police in the LAPD, said the behavior of the police in this case points to troubling trends in policy. “It is evidence of just how far we have gone, and how callous we have become, in treating our children with the care and dignity they should be entitled.”
“The fact that the police officer chose to prey upon the most vulnerable” is “egregious” but not surprising, he said. He pointed toward policing tactics and policies — like quotas, the increasing criminalization of America’s schools, and the war on drugs — that put pressure on police to treat normal teen behavior as criminal.
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