Just another day in the drug war

Back in 2011, police in Framingham, Massachusetts conducted a drug raid that cost an innocent man his life.

They were looking for 2o-year-old Joseph Bushfan and Dwayne Barrett. Police allege an undercover officer had purchased drugs from the two men earlier that evening.

Bushfan was arrested minutes before the raid when he came out of the apartment. Barrett didn’t reside at the residence. But the police went ahead with the raid, anyway. They took a battering ram to the door, set off a flash grenade, and forced their way inside. As the SWAT team moved through the house, screaming at everyone to get on the floor, Officer Paul Duncan approached 68-year-old Eurie Stamps. Stamps lived at the residence with his wife Norma Bushfan-Stamps, the mother of suspect Joseph Bushfan. Stamps, who was not suspected of any crime, was watching a basketball game in his pajamas when the police came in. By the time Duncan got to him in a hallway, he was lying face-down on the floor with his arms over his head, as per police instructions.

Duncan would later tell investigators that for his own safety, he decided to restrain Stamps, even though he was following instructions, and wasn’t the suspect . . .

As Duncan moved to pull Stamps’ arms behind him, he says he fell backwards, somehow causing his gun to discharge, shooting Stamps. The grandfather of 12 was shot dead in his own home, while fully complying with police orders during a raid over crimes in which he had no involvement.

Duncan and the raid team were cleared of any wrongdoing. A little over three years later, another botched raid in Framingham:

A Framingham family was awakened Thursday by police breaking down their front door and forcing everyone to the ground at gunpoint after they conducted a drug raid at the wrong house.

Framingham and State Police were conducting a multi-jurisdictional drug investigation when the mistake occurred around 6 a.m. Thursday.

“They had me down on the hallway upstairs, my daughter was coming out of the shower, she didn’t have [any] clothes on, they make her get down, my kids are on the floor,” said Michelle McClain, whose apartment was raided.

She has five kids between four and 18 years old. Some, she says, have behavioral problems, making it hard for them to understand what happened.

Framingham is home to about 70,000 people. It often makes those “best places to live” lists. I’m sure that pretty soon, all the drugs will be gone from Framingham for good, and no one in the town will ever get high again. Then all the dead grandfathers and terrified children will have been worth it.

 

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
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Radley Balko · May 2