A young Florida man was killed in his home during a drug enforcement raid earlier this year after an informant led authorities to believe he was selling marijuana.
The man was not some despicable drug dealer, but merely an average guy who occasionally sold joints to his circle of friends. The possibility their snitch was full of bogus information never crossed the mind of police as they entered the home of 29-year-old Jason Westcott in late May to execute a search warrant, which ultimately left Westcott riddled with bullets from assault weapons.
Interestingly, Westcott’s only previous encounter with the law took place several months earlier when he contacted authorities to report that a man who had been a guest in his house was plotting to rob and kill him. Tampa police came out to his residence to file a report and before leaving, one of the investigators told Westcott: “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill,” according to several family members.
It was perhaps this advice, amplified by the fear of being murdered that caused Westcott to grab his gun and run towards the bathroom when he was awakened on May 27 by the sound of intruders ransacking his home.
The SWAT team had entered the house through an unlocked door when neither Westcott nor his roommate, who was also sleeping, responded to their knocks. Once inside, officers apprehended the roommate who was crashed out on the couch, while additional officers scoured the home. It was during this time when Westcott grabbed his pistol and moved towards his bathroom in hopes of using a surveillance monitor to see exactly who was causing the commotion. He never made it.
As he ran out of his bedroom and into the hallway, two SWAT team members who were armed with semiautomatic weapons shot him five times. Although Westcott was treated by a SWAT medic; he died shortly thereafter at a local hospital. The officers responsible for pulling the trigger claimed they opened fire after Westcott pointed a gun at them. Yet, an investigation revealed his firearm was never discharged.
A search of the residence uncovered a measly 0.2 grams of marijuana, barely enough to roll a personal sized joint. Westcott’s roommate told authorities that the two smoked marijuana on a regular basis but never kept enough in the house that could result in felony charges. As for the reason SWAT was there in the first place — suspicion of dealing marijuana — the roommate said, “We would just sell a blunt here and there to our friends or whatever. It was no crazy thing. There weren’t people coming in and out of our house every day. It wasn’t paying any bills. We were still broke . . . going to work every day.”
Tampa police reported that the raid took place because an undercover officer had made several marijuana buys from the residence. Yet, the department was later forced to come clean and admit the shakedown was centered on the inaccurate tattle tales of a snitch.
Unfortunately, the cops responsible for killing Westcott were found justified in their murderous actions, and no further investigation is pending. Tampa Police chief Jane Castor said the SWAT team conducted the raid in accordance with their training.
“Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers. You can take the entire marijuana issue out of the picture,” said Castor. “If there’s an indication that there is armed trafficking going on — someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm — then the tactical response team will do the initial entry.”
Jason Westcott is the 25th person to die as the result of drug war tactics this year.
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