29 year old Jason Westcott was killed in 2014. A search warrant was executed at Westcott’s home immediately prior to his death. The search warrant affidavit referenced 4 drug transactions (which totaled a misdemeanor amount of marijuana) conducted by a confidential informant who has since made claims of lying and police misconduct. The Tampa Police Department believed this CI when he produced information which secured the warrant. However, the CI then became Pinocchio once he began to allege police misconduct.
Possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana in Florida is considered a misdemeanor. In order to meet the threshold of a trafficking amount of marijuana in Florida, you must possess an excess of 25 pounds of marijuana.
The search warrant executed in the Jason Westcott case that resulted in his execution references 4 pot transactions, four different dates:
1. $60 worth
2. $60 worth
3. $20 worth
4. $20 worth
According to Tampa Bay Times (“TBT’), the CI is now alleging that on April 8, 2014 Westcott had no pot to sell yet the CI claimed to have purchased 1 gram. The CI told TBT that his police handler suggested that he make that untruthful claim.
* each of the individual transactions were misdemeanor amounts. In the aggregate the transactions also amounted to a misdemeanor amount. (15 grams according to TBT report) (15 grams of cannabis is not even enough seasoning to make a decent pot stew).
The SWAT team was brought in because TPD claims that their former CI claimed to have witnessed Westcott carrying a weapon during the cannabis transactions thereby portraying him as an armed trafficker. CI told TBT that is not true. (nothing in the search warrant references any weapons carried byJason Westcott during the times he sold cannabis to CI).
“Michael Levine, a former DEA agent and veteran drug informer handler, said Tampa detectives’ management of Coogle was an invitation to problems. “The handling of this informant appears to be substandard to the degree that it endangered public safety,” Levine said. He noted officers’ decision not to record his interactions with suspects and failure to corroborate Coogle’s claims about what he witnessed inside Westcott’s home. Small marijuana deals combined with an informer’s unverified statements aren’t sufficient to send a SWAT team through someone’s door, Levine said. “That is just not enough,” he said. “If you think that the informant walking out of a house and saying ‘I bought dope’ is enough to corroborate what he’s saying about the guns and drugs, you’re in the wrong business.” (Excerpt of Peter Jamison’s TBT coverage, “Times exclusive: Confidential informer blows whistle in fatal Tampa SWAT raid.”
This weekend I read the affidavit in support of the search warrant. In paragraph 5 of the warrant the police officer affiants stated that they had “probable cause” that Jason West was committing “offenses involving the trafficking” of marijuana. (this search warrant does not reference any factual support for trafficking amounts of marijuana).
The SEARCH WARRANT (copy provided courtesy of Tampa Bay attorney Donald Harrison)
Jason Westcott was executed for 15 grams of marijuana, what a tragedy. After the search warrant was executed, which should have yielded “trafficking” amounts, only $2.00 worth was found. Unlike prescription pills that pharmaceutical companies makes billions from, you can’t overdose from marijuana. Look at the substance overdose comparison for recent years. In 2010 deaths for (alcohol, 27,762), for (pharmaceutical drugs, 22 134), for (cannabis, 0). No recorded deaths for marijuana usage. Although there are dubious claims. End criminalization of cannabis. Begin reform and better practices in the use of confidential informants.
Chief Castor and Mayor Buckhorn attend Tampa Led Black Clergy March
According to TBT this month Tampa black clergy led a march in order to bring the police force and the black community together. Chief Castor and Mayor Buckhorn attended. The event was worthwhile in that it sought to bring harmony between the black and law enforcement communities after what our country witnessed transpire in Ferguson. Where was Chief Castor and Mayor Bob Buckhorn when Jason Westcott’s mother stood in front of TPD to call for justice for her son?
Last year TBO reported that Chief Castor guaranteed that there will never be a Ferguson in Tampa. Interestingly, she was criticized by councilman Frank Reddick for underrepresentation of minorities in her department. Chief Nostradamus, will there be another Jason Westcott in Tampa? Can you offer up the same security and guarantee to minority communities that are disproportionately impacted by the “war on drugs” ? I’m sure the black clergy that you took the time to meet with recently would be very interested in knowing that the substandard and deficient practices used by law enforcement agencies such as yours cannot “guarantee” safety to the public, not even black clergy members.
Houston we have a problem. A problem that negatively impacts all communities. We should all lend support to Jason Westcott’s mother in bringing justice for her and Jason in at least getting the word out and doing all we can to call upon lawmakers and community leaders to not let this continue to happen.
News Channel 8 recently reported that Castor has been reaching out to local churches seeking recruits. In 2009 when Castor was confirmed as police chief TBT reported that her mom held the bible she rested her hand on. Chief, looks like you’ve had some exposure to the good book. I call your attention to Genesis 1:11-12 which reads:
“Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Can I get an amen?
I advance a steer clear from drugs message. Now that we are on a spiritual note, I religiously patronize my local vitamin outlet store in order to get my magnesium fix (miracle mineral) and other health products rather than rely on any type of drug. However, I don’t fail to see the hypocrisy and double standard of our state’s criminalization of pot. Especially when some people can benefit from its medicinal value and because it pales in comparison to many of the pharmaceuticals in its negative effects. No more unnecessary deaths because of marijuana and substandard law enforcement practices dealing with informers.
Please spread the word and help bring: