Police take 1 1/2 hours to respond to a 911 call for help, then blame the patient
On December 28, 2010, in the Hawaiian Acres subdivision, medical marijuana patient Brad Snow caught a man in his yard stealing his medical marijuana plants. He immediately called 911, and was immediately put on hold. Eventually he got through to ask for help — but it took the Hawaii county police 1 1/2 hours to respond to his report of a robbery-in-progress. During that time Brad was attacked by the robber. After assaulting Brad, the robber easily escaped long before the police arrived. When the police finally did arrive they made excuses for the lengthy delay, saying a shift change was to blame. This is how it is in most medical marijuana robbery cases in Hawaii county: patients rarely if ever get any help from the police. Luckily Brad was not seriously injured or killed by the violent thief. One of the officers on the scene took Brad aside and — after stating she did not know what the medical marijuana law was (she had not read it) — proceeded to accuse Brad of selling marijuana, saying he would not have been targeted and robbed otherwise. Brad also knew that if he had defended himself and the intruder was hurt or killed, he would go to prison. That’s how it works in Hawaii county. Brad Snow was robbed, threatened and attacked by a violent criminal — and then was treated like a criminal by the police because he called for their help.
Most cannabis patients in Hawaii county are aware that a medical patient from Hawaiian Ocean View, Kevin Metcalf, shot and killed a violent thief that had repeatedly robbed him. In a similar situation to what Brad Snow and many others find themselves, the police couldn’t or wouldn’t help. Even though the thief had a lengthy criminal record, including five convictions for felony burglary, two for felony theft and was a registered sex offender, the prosecutor charged Metcalf with second degree murder. Prosecutor Rick Damerville, told the judge that Metcalf was “addicted to marijuana”. He was convicted of manslaughter and of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The jury was not allowed to hear the extensive criminal history of the thief. Dammerville is the same prosecutor that just argued for a 90 day sentence for a well connected Hawaii county fireman who got drunk and killed another man by running over him. The fireman, Konrad Mossman, fled the scene and lied to police about what happened. The prosecutor Damerville sounded more like a defense attorney in that case. The man killed by Mossman was poor and unconnected, while Mossman is a well known fireman well-connected to the police and prosecutors who covered for him. Police never even impounded the truck Mossman was driving when he left 22-year old Tim Sing to die on the road, nor did they secure the scene. Crime scene photos were taken with a cell phone camera.
Marijuana patients, on the other hand, cannot even defend them self against the most violent robberies. The Metcalf case in conjunction with the numerous arrest and prosecution of legal medical marijuana patients has sent a chill through the medical marijuana community. The police and prosecutors are not trusted, they treat the patients as criminals and consistently seek to find ways to arrest them and send them to jail.
Now lets compare that to a recent break in at the THCF Medicinal Gardens in Portland Oregon on Sunday, January 23, 2011. The alarm system went off as 4 individuals broke-in to the THCF garden. The alarm company called the police and Paul Stanford the CEO of THCF. The police were on the scene in three minutes. Two hours after the thieves broke-in, the forensic investigation continued. As the police arrived, the thieves were still in the building. A police dog confronted them, and two were arrested. Two of the hapless felons got away, but left a van and a truck behind. The police were very polite, friendly and professional with Mr. Stanford. That is how these robberies are supposed to be handled by police; yet we see a significant difference in the policy and attitude of the Hawaii county police department.
The Hawaii county police and prosecutor do not like the medical marijuana law and they put Brad Snow’s life in danger because of it. The 5000 plus medical marijuana patients that live in Hawaii county are treated like criminals. But they are not the criminals here. It is the police that should be brought up on charges by the prosecutor and their superiors — except that is where this policy is initiated with a wink and a nod.
Medical marijuana patients like Brad Snow are stuck in a legal limbo. The police refuse to respect the medical marijuana laws and the criminals know it. Criminals and police together are actively preying on these medical patients in concert because of the policy of the police, prosecutor, mayor and county council. The patients are at the mercy of violent criminals because police refuse to respond or investigate crimes against them. Despite the laws that allow patients who go through the burdensome process required to get a blue card (a medical license to use marijuana) from the state, no one is willing to help or protect these lawful citizens, including judges, the mayor, the county council, the state attorney general, or the feds. Medical marijuana patients are second class citizens in Hawaii county, and as such are considered fair game. They can make excuses for their conduct but the bottom line is that police in Hawaii county look at medical marijuana patients as drug abusers even though a doctor has certified they are ill. Cannabis is the most strictly regulated medical drug in the state, but still there is a stigma put on anyone who uses it, and they become targets. A campaign of intimidation has been perpetrated at the highest levels in the police department, prosecutors office, and the State Department of Narcotics Enforcement that oversees the medical marijuana program. One of the most vulnerable sectors of the community, residents with serious health problems that are best treated with cannabis are singled out by criminals and the police and repeatedly victimized with no recourse. When patients call the police they are treated like criminals — if the police even bother to respond. It’s common knowledge on the Big Island that the police are arresting legal medical marijuana patients, for any number of reasons, and prosecutors are vigorously pursuing criminal drug cases against them even when they are within the legal limits.
What many don’t know is that it doesn’t end there. In what could be described as a deliberate policy of intimidation and harassment, incidents involving police misconduct or indifference in how they treat medical marijuana patients are more the norm than the exception. The policy of the Hawaii county police department allows patients to be targeted for robbery, and has resulted in at least one death already: the burglar in the Metcalf case.
In Brad Snow’s case there can be no argument that the police response was completely inappropriate. As if taking 1 1/2 hours to respond was not bad enough, they blamed the victim, saying it was his own fault because he must have done something to cause the robbery. Brad felt like the police where looking for a reason to find him in violation of the marijuana laws so they could arrest him. One officer separated Brad while the others kept looking around his property even though he told them the robber had walked down the driveway and left in a car driven by an awaiting accomplice.
In Hawaii county patients are targeted for arrest and the state has refused to help. The recently promoted department of Public safety chief Keith Kamita who oversaw the medical marijuana program for many years repeated the claim that doctors are recommending medical marijuana so people can get high, not for real medical reasons. Kamita’s comments are outrageous and unfounded. There are no criminal charges and no evidence to support these groundless claims. Kamita has overseen the medical marijuana program for the state of Hawaii for the last decade. He has no medical degree. He is a cop — not a doctor — and should never have been in charge of a medical program. Kamita was both incredibly ignorant and blatantly biased against the medicinal aspects of cannabis. He further victimized both patients and doctors, even releasing the confidential patient information including addresses to the press.
In this most recent case Brad Snow caught the thief red handed stealing the legal medical plants. The confrontation quickly turned violent when the robber attacked Brad with a piece of lumber, and when he retreated back into his house the attack continued with the assailant throwing rocks at the house, and then picking up a boulder and smashing the windshield of Brad’s vehicle. Before fleeing the attacker threatened Brad that he was lucky “they didn’t send the other guys”. When Brad reported the damage, the police demanded his safety check and other car papers, apparently searching for a reason to again punish the victim.
In 2002 John and Rhonda Robison, and Kealoha Wells, a cancer patient ,were arrested for growing medical marijuana. They were within the legal limits both for plants and dried marijuana. Although they were not charged police refused to return the medical plants even for the cancer patient. They sued and the county settled the case for $30,000.00. However it was taxpayer money and the police continue to harass medical patients like Jeffery Contella.
In June 2010 a plain clothes police officer Detective Chad Taniyama stole Jeff’s medical permits and fully budded plants, he had no warrant, no probable cause, and never showed a badge. Detective Taniyama didn’t have a car and didn’t leave a receipt.
He was a thief that robbed these medical patients, nothing more. After carefully separating and bagging the mature buds, he waited in the drive way for half an hour for a ride from who knows who. The large bag of buds disappeared and no explanation of what happened to them was ever given.
In the Metcalf case the police failed to do anything about the previous robberies even though everyone knew who was doing it. When the patient felt threatened at 10:30 PM one night, he shot and killed the intruder. The same guy had been robbing the community for some time and after his death, burglaries and thefts dropped dramatically. If the police would have protected Mr. Metcalf or put the career criminal in prison this would never have happened. Instead a medical patient with no criminal history went to prison for what many see as self defense.
Tom Martin, a friend of Kevin Metcalf ,was quoted in the local press as saying, “We get home invasion on a weekly basis; we get burglaries day-by-day,” he said. “What should we do? Just lay here out on the road with our throats up so they can just cut ’em? … His wife, Denise, echoed those sentiments.
How many more people have to die or be victimized, until the police will do the job we pay them for? Police do not get to choose to enforce the laws based on arbitrary department policy. Until some of these officers are disciplined and fired the outrages will continue. These crimes are ultimately the fault of the officers’ bosses, our representatives, and the corrupt justice system.