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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.

July 13, 1995

Not All Marijuana Law Victims Are Arrested:
Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Suspected Marijuana User Cleared Of Criminal Charges

        July 6, 1995, Beaver Dam, WI:  According to a lengthy article in the Madison Isthmus, Detective Robert Neuman -- the police officer who on April 28 fatally shot suspected marijuana user Scott Bryant in his home -- has been recently cleared of criminal charges by a Sheboygan County District Attorney.
        Officer Neuman shot and killed twenty-nine year old Scott Bryant on April 28 when he and three other police officers barged into Bryant's mobile home executing a no knock/no announce warrant.  Bryant was unarmed and did not resist arrest; his seven year old son, Colton, was present during the shooting.  A total of less than one ounce of marijuana was found in the apartment.
        District Attorney Wells concluded that, "The shooting of Scott Bryant was not in any form justified."  However, he also determined that the shooting was "unintentional," and thus, could not file homicide charges.  Wells theorizes that, "[Officer Neuman's] hand may have clenched either as he jerked his weapon toward the noise and struck the door, or in 'sympathetic physical reaction' to his other hand, which was also grasping."  A gun-maker of the Beretta used by Neuman finds such an occurrence to be unlikely since the Beretta's double action draw length "helps reduce the chance of ... inadvertent discharges."  Neuman claims that he has "no recollection of pulling the trigger."
        Wells also ruled out charges of criminal recklessness in the Neuman shooting, claiming that the detective "could not have had a 'conscious, subjective awareness' that his gun handling created a grave risk, since his partner was in the line of fire."  The Isthmus article further adds that because of the employment of an "outdated legal definition," Wells also cleared Neuman of the charge of criminal recklessness.  As a result, Officer Neuman can return to regular active duty.
        The fatal shooting of Scott Bryant by law enforcement officials is yet another example of the government's continued war against marijuana users.  In a similar instance, disabled Vietnam veteran Gary Shepard was shot and killed by police in August of 1992 as he and his family stood on the front porch of his home in rural Kentucky.  Shepard had been engaged in a day-long standoff with law enforcement officials after he refused to let police cut down the marijuana plants growing on his property.  Perhaps even more shocking was the October 2, 1993 fatal shooting of millionaire rancher Donald Scott.  Scott was killed when law enforcement officials raided his Malibu property searching for 40 pounds of marijuana.  No marijuana was ever found.

Number Of Jail Inmates Experiences Third Largest Increase Since 1983

        According to the most recent Census of Jails and Annual Survey of Jails report, the jail population of the United States rose by 30,638 inmates between July 1, 1993, and June 30,1994.  This growth marks the third largest annual increase recorded since 1983.
        Even more striking were the report's findings that: "Since 1983 the jail inmate population has nearly doubled on a per capita basis.  During this period the number of jail inmates per 100,000 residents rose from 96 to 188."  Consequently, the report estimates that about 1 in every 398 adult residents (and 1 in every 212 men) are in a local jail.
        Not surprisingly, the largest source of growth among inmates in local jails was drug law violators.  Because of increased law enforcement and stiffer penalties under the "War on Drugs," the number of jail inmates charged or convicted of drug offenses increased from 20,800 in 1983 to 91,000 in 1989.  Subsequently, the percentage of inmates serving time in jail for drug offenses has skyrocketed from 10% in 1983 to nearly 25% in 1989.  This figure accounts for more than 40% of the total increase in jail population.

Counting Down: The Ten Millionth Marijuana Arrest Since 1965 Will Take Place On July 20. It Could Be You!