Two SWAT team members preparing to breach a door during a training exercise.

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At Least 20 SWAT Raids Since 2010 Involving Cannabis Have Led to Deaths

According to data compiled by the New York Timesat least 20 SWAT raids since 2010 that involved suspected cannabis dealers have resulted in the death of the suspect or a police officer participating in the raid, the Washington Post reports.

According to the figures, four police officers were killed intentionally or otherwise while conducting a SWAT raid for cannabis, and at least three suspects who were killed possessed fewer than 5 grams at the time of the raid.

A Tampa, Florida raid in 2014 left the suspect, 29-year-old Jason Westcott, dead after police said they observed him with a firearm – although no shots were fired at police. In that case officers found .2 grams of cannabis. Two years later, another Tampa man, 22-year-old Levonia Riggins, was shot and killed in his bed by police during a raid that uncovered 2 grams of cannabis on his person. No other cannabis was found in the home and Riggins was unarmed.

In 2010, Las Vegas, Nevada police raided the home of 21-year-old Trevon Cole after undercover officers purchased 1.8 ounces of cannabis from him over four deals. In that case, Bryan Yant, the detective, used false information – that of another suspect – to acquire a warrant for the raid from a judge. Cole was shot by police as he was flushing cannabis down the toilet. Police found neither weapons in his home, nor any cannabis beyond “bits…floating in the toilet.”

In 2013, a Somerville, Texas raid on the home of Henry Magee left police investigator Frederich Sowers dead. Officers were investigating a tip from a criminal informant about a 12-plant grow when they kicked in Magee’s door who fired in their direction with a semi-automatic rifle believing he was being robbed. In that case Magee was acquitted of capital murder, with one juror asking the Times, “Why in the world would you do a full-out assault on a guy growing pot?”

Of the 65 deadly raids since 2010, 24 were for non-drug crimes, while 41 were for the suspected sale of drugs other than cannabis.

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