Even when the violence is self-inflicted, the War on Drugs continues to claim the lives of innocent people. Unfortunately, this was the outcome of a situation in Ohio earlier this week, after a man police suspected of growing marijuana, committed suicide during a raid.
When officers showed up at the residence of 42-year-old Timothy Sturgis on Tuesday evening, there was no question he did not want to be bothered. There were several dogs, including a German Shepherd and a Doberman Pinscher, guarding his 21-acre farm, as well as an alarm system buried in weeds at the entrance to his driveway to warn of unexpected visitors.
It did not take long before authorities fully engaged Sturgis, who was already on the run on his property. However, when police finally caught up with him, rather than find a reasonable way to disarm the situation, they allowed him to stand for two hours with a gun pointed at his head, threatening to kill himself. In the end, Sturgis chose death over prosecution for seven measly pot plants.
The police, of course, refused to admit that they handled the bust all wrong. “No one likes the violence. We wish it didn’t have to be that way,” special agent David Posten, with the Marijuana Eradication and Clandestine Lab Unit, told The Columbus Dispatch. “But when people say ‘Was this little bit of marijuana worth this man’s life?’ it frustrates me. This isn’t ever about marijuana. It’s about someone’s choices.”
Actually, what is frustrating is the fact that police made the choice to track Sturgis down like a bad dog, even though he had no criminal history and had never given anyone a reason to consider him dangerous. From the outside looking in, it seems that Sturgis was just a loner and a stoner, who was trying to grow a little weed to make his miserable Ohio existence a bit more palatable.
Although there were attempts to contact Sturgis’ family in hopes of persuading him to end the standoff, at 8:17pm all hope was abandoned with a single gunshot from an AK-47.
This raid, which yielded only seven marijuana plants and cost an upstanding citizen his life, was part of a taxpayer-funded program that pays police to scouring the state in helicopters looking for marijuana crops.
Interestingly, the police seemed confused about why Sturgis would rather kill himself than face felony charges and the probability of prison time. “Not enough worth dying over,” said Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff. “It’s beyond me … why anybody would take their own life in a situation like this. It’s marijuana, yes, and it’s illegal in Ohio. That’s why we’re out here. But we’ve seen much bigger operations. It’s unfortunate.”