The Problem with Drug Laws
It all seemed so cut and dried a week ago, didn't it? A shootout during a drug raid, resulting in the death on one police officer and the wounding of another. But at least they got the perps:
"Police have confirmed that a man and a woman have been arrested. CTV's Genevieve Beauchemin said a suspect -- reportedly the woman -- was shot."[emphasis mine]
The "suspects" were arrested, one of them also wounded. They have since been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, firing a gun with intent to wound and endangerment.
Justice has been served for Det.-Sgt. Daniel Tessier and his family, right?
It turns out, the shooter was not a drug dealer, or a mule, or a cooker. He was family man, a father and it now appears he was protecting his family from what he perceived was a home invasion robbery.
Basile Parasiris, his wife and two children awoke in a panic as police used a battering ram to break into their Brossard home and then started firing their guns inside during Friday's pre-dawn raid, his lawyer said yesterday.
Lawyer Frank Pappas said his client was trying to defend himself and his family when he grabbed a loaded gun and shot Laval Constable Daniel Tessier - whom Parasiris mistook for a crazed thief.
"If he would've believed it was the police, do you think he would have taken them on?" Pappas said in an interview. "They have more firepower than him."[emphasis mine]
M. Parasiris did this with a legally registered firearm, which the police, presumably, should have known about. He admits to illegally keeping it loaded, but that is all.
Parasiris' wife was also wounded in the raid which, incidentally, netted nothing - no drugs, no guns - save two pills of of viagra he didn't have a prescription for. Neither he nor his wife have a criminal record.
So now we have tragedy pilled upon tragedy. A police officer dead and a father's life ruined by what appears to be a mistake or negligence. Of course, this is not the first time these kinds of problems have occurred, especially in connection with so-called "no knock" drug raids. It is nothing new to Canada either. During the 80's, the OPP TRU team shot and killed a farmer near Windsor Ontario who saw armed men on his property and came out to defend his family. It was later discovered that the team was supposed to be at the farm next door, to deal with a suicidal man and had shot an innocent man.
The problem of course is not simply or merely bad police intelligence or drug dealers living in residential areas using innocent neighbours as "human shields" (the 'Hezzbollah Gambit'). The problem is with our drug laws. The problem is that we have drug laws. The prohibition on drugs has created the violence - gangs and organized crime move in to take over and feed the demand and can resort to violence because other, non-violent avenues of conflict resolution have been closed off. This was the great lesson of Prohibition. Why would we expect a prohibition on drugs - any drugs - to work any better?
Det-Sgt. Tessier and the rest of the squad could have been working on solving murders, sexual assaults, frauds or recovering stolen property (something the police rarely do these days). He would not have been in such a dangerous situation. M. Parasiris would be getting up to go to work today. And there would be as much violence in the drug trade as there is in the alcohol trade today - none.
All of this Kafkaesque tragedy could have been, and can be in the future, avoided.
It not like many police officers themselves don't think the same thing. For a very good and biting commentary, check out this here, here and finally here. LEAP has a video to make you think as well.
How many more tragedies on all sides do we need to suffer through before we realize that the prohibition of drugs creates more problems and violence thant the drugs themselves?
In the meanwhile, lets hope M. Parasiris is exonerated in this horrible mistake and returned to his family. And lets hope Det-Sgt. Tessier family get some answers as to what went wrong.
(h/t to Jay Jardine)
Jay give us more context. Its looking more and more like an innocent man defending his family in after the police made a terrible mistake.