The recent unrest in the Charlotte area following the shooting death of a black male by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers was initially sparked by the officers' observation that the man was smoking a "blunt" of marijuana.
The police department released details of the events that precipitated their officers' decision to use deadly force. Allegedly, the officers were in plainclothes and an unmarked car as the sat on a stakeout waiting to serve and arrest warrant to another suspect in a case that had no relation to the man they eventually shot and killed.
Officers described observing the young man pull up in their vicinity and spotted the blunt in his hand. The official summary of the fatal incident stated that "Officers did not consider [the suspect's] drug activity to be a priority at the time."
However, when they also observed the suspect with a gun, "the combination of illegal drugs and the gun . . . [caused] officers . . . to take enforcement action for public safety concerns."
Because the man allegedly failed to comply with police commands, officers fired the shots that killed him.
It's a sad fact that low-level marijuana possession can quickly escalate to fatal encounters with police. The same type of scenario played out last summer in Seneca, South Carolina, when police shot and killed a 19-year-old man who tried to escape a pot bust by fleeing the scene in his car. Different versions of the same story have been repeated all over the country due to the unnecessary aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws.
Here in North Carolina, marijuana is till illegal. There is no doubt that it is far better to get busted than to wind up dead by resisting or attempting to flee, but in the split-second it takes to pull a trigger, a suspect can do any number of dumb or irrational things out of sheer panic.
If you get arrested on drug charges, don't hold court in the streets. Comply with officers, uphold your right and seek qualified defense representation to mitigate the damages and live to see another day.
Source: The Denver Post, "Marijuana really can be deadly – when encountering police officers," Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, Sep. 29, 2016