A fatal police shooting in Florida has gone largely unnoticed by the national media. Tampa resident Jason Westcott was shot inside his home after a presumably “no-knock” warrant was issued for alleged marijuana dealing. A Florida SWAT team fatally shot Jason Westcott during the raid that garnered about $2 worth of pot.
Prior to the Tampa SWAT raid, only a single call about the home have been made to police dispatchers, one which came from the frightened man himself. The initial contact between Jason Westcott and the police stemmed from a robbery threat made by a man who had been to the home for a party.
The Florida man of modest means and worked on-and-off as a motorcycle mechanic. The only items inside the home worthy of theft, according to the Seminole Heights man, were two televisions and a handgun that had once belonged to his brother. The threat’s from the would-be intruder that he would be killed were far more worrisome to Westcott than the loss of property.
Tampa police officers tracked down the alleged potential robber and told him to stay away from Westcott. Friends of the Seminole Heights residents maintain the police told him that if anyone breaks into the house, grab the gun and shoot to kill. Just two months after the robbery threat armed men did come busting through Jason Westcott’s door – but they were SWAT team members and not robbers.
Westcott, 29, did not have the opportunity to squeeze the trigger one time to protect himself before he was killed in a massive volley of police gunfire. The law enforcement officers were form the same department that had originally been tasked with helping protect the man from the plotting robber.
The raid was conducted by the Tampa Police Department SWAT team. Reporters who quickly arrived on the scene were told by police officials that Westcott was dealing drugs and had sold pot numerous times. One department official said that the renter had “raised his gun and threatened officers” who returned fire in self-defense.
In the time span from the police visit to the home to help prevent theft and bodily harm from coming to Jason Westcott, the man had become the target of an intricate drug investigation. The raid occurred on Tuesday evening, the same night Westcott typically babysit for his sister’s children – they were not in the home this time.
Israel Reyes, 22, the live-in boyfriend of Westcott was also suspected of dealing drugs and was at the home the evening of the raid. To date Reyes had not been charged with a crime. “Nobody can believe that this happened to Jason. They can’t understand how this could happen to Jason. No one can figure this out,” Patti Silliman, Westcott’s mother, said.
The drugs buys which allegedly took place at the home were not conducted by an undercover Tampa police officer but a citizen informant. According to police documents, the informer bought less than a total of $200 worth of marijuana during multiple visits to Westcott’s Seminole Heights home.
The Tampa Police Department reportedly stated that the drug raid was prompted by complaints from multiple neighbors. But, when the Tampa Bay Times investigated the claim further and could find no record of any neighbor who would admit to calling the police of records of complaints filed at the department. The reason for the deadly Westcott marijuana raid was ultimately cited as a tip from the same informer who claims to have purchased pot from the deceased man.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor had this to say about the Tampa fatal shooting:
“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. 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. I’ve gone in where there was an expectation that we would find a small amount and you would find kilos of narcotics. And then vice versa, where you were going in and you thought you were going to find multiple kilos and you found residue. It’s not an exact science.”
Hillsborough State Attorney’s office determined that the police officers involved with the fatal shooting were justified in the use of deadly force. The officers named in the proceeding were Corporal Eric Wasierski and officer Edwin Perez.
Why do you think the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown has captured nationwide attention while the fatal police shooting of Jason Westcott did not?
[Images Via: Tampa Bay Timesand Weedist ]