Drug Cops Kill Two in Two Days in Drug Raids

Brenda Van ZwietenBrenda Van ZwietenAt least two US citizens were killed in their own homes by American police enforcing the war on drugs in a 48-hour period late last week.

One was a 52-year-old white grandmother; the other was a 43-year-old black man. Both allegedly confronted home-invading officers with weapons; both were shot to death. No police officers were injured.

The combination of widespread gun ownership in the US with aggressive drug war policing is a recipe for tragedy, one that is repeated on a regular basis. Gun owners commonly cite protecting themselves from home-invading robbers as a reason for arming themselves, while police cite widespread gun ownership as a reason they need to use SWAT-style tactics, breaking down doors and using overwhelming force against potential shooters. That homeowners would pick up a weapon upon hearing their doors broken down is not surprising, nor is it surprising that police are quick to shoot to kill “suspects” who may pose a threat to them.

The first killing came Thursday morning in North Memphis, when a Bartlett, Tennessee, police narcotics squad serving a search warrant for drug possession — not sales, manufacture, or possession with intent to sell — shot and killed Malcolm Shaw, 43, after breaking into his home. Police said they knocked on Shaw’s door several times and identified themselves as police before entering the home.

Police said Shaw emerged from a room and pointed a gun at plainclothes officer Patrick Cicci. Cicci fired once, killing Shaw. Cicci is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

While the Bartlett Police investigation is ongoing, that didn’t stop the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office from announcing Monday that Cicci will not be prosecuted. Cicci’s killing of the homeowner was “apparent justifiable use of deadly force in self defense,” a spokesman said.

Bartlett police said that while the Bartlett narcs conducting the raid were not in uniform, their gear clearly identified them as law enforcement. They wore “high-visibility vests” marked “POLICE” in several spots, police said.

The killing of the well-known neighborhood handyman led to the formation of a crowd hostile to police outside his home. Bartlett police on the scene had to call Memphis police to do crowd control.

Memphis police complained that the Bartlett narcs had not followed law enforcement protocols requiring them to notify the local agency when they were operating in its jurisdiction. They said they were notified only as the raid commenced, and that moments later, they got a request for an ambulance at the address, and moments after that, they got a request that they send a couple of police cruisers for crowd control.

Timothy Miers, who said he was Shaw’s brother accused police of being trigger-happy. “How you gonna go in serving a warrant and shoot somebody?” Miers asked. “They already had their finger on the trigger.”

The sense of disbelief over the killing was shared by members of the crowd gathered outside Shaw’s home. Many complained about the officers’ actions.

“My heart fell to the ground,” one neighbor said.

“We can’t believe it,” said another. “Malcolm out of all people.”

Family members expressed confusion about the shooting, saying Shaw was not a person they would have expected to threaten officers. “They say he had a gun,” said Miers. “My brother doesn’t have no gun.”

Friends of Shaw said the same thing. “I ain’t never seen him with no gun,” said Arvette Thomas, a friend of Shaw.

Shaw never bothered anyone, neighbors said. “I think it’s wrong to just kill him like they did,” said a neighbor, “because he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Less than 48 hours later, members of a Broward County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and its Selective Enforcement Team in Pompano Beach, Florida, shot and killed Brenda Van Zweiten, 52, during a drug raid on her home. Police had developed evidence that drugs were being sold from the residence, and obtained a search warrant. After allegedly identifying themselves as police, they broke through a sliding glass door to a bedroom and arrested Van Zweiten’s boyfriend, Gary Nunnemacher, 47, on charges of possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana. Van Zweiten was in a different bedroom, and was shot and killed by deputies when she emerged holding a handgun. According to police, she refused to put down her weapon, so they shot her.

Police reported finding one gram of heroin, four grams of crack cocaine, marijuana, marijuana plants, 40 generic Xanax tablets, $550 cash, two shotguns, and a rifle. Family members said Van Zweiten had a prescription for Xanax, but was not a drug dealer. But police had earlier in the day arrested three people leaving the home who they say had bought drugs there — although police did not say from whom.

After Van Zweiten’s killing, police were unrepentant. “When you approach a police officer with a loaded weapon and don’t put the weapon down, there’s going to be consequences,” sheriff’s spokesman Mike Jachles said. “It’s unfortunate, but I’d rather be talking about a dead suspect than a dead cop.”

Van Zweiten’s brother, Bill George, said his sister had recently received threats and was afraid of break-ins. “It was an unlawful shooting,” he said. “She’s 98 pounds. She was just trying to protect herself. I would come out of my room with a gun too.”

As news of Van Zweiten’s death spread, friends, neighbors, and family members expressed dismay and disbelief. They called the incident a “set up” and said the blonde grandmother was affectionately called “Mom” by many who knew her for using her home as a neighborhood hangout to keep kids off the streets. Dozens of people gathered in her yard near a flower-bedecked cross put up as a memorial.

“Look at these people,” said George. “She helped so many of these young people.”

“She was like a second mom to me,” said Michael Miller, 18. “She would take in anybody.”

“There was no reason for this,” said son Rob Singleton, 32.

Van Zwieten had no criminal history involving drugs or violence, state records show.

George said that Van Zweiten had reason to fear intruders because she had been threatened recently by a man accused of stealing watches and rings that were part of a shrine to two of her four sons, who had died within the past three years, one in a traffic accident, one of a drug overdose. She had just installed an alarm system last week, George said. “She was scared.”

Singleton showed reporters inside the house, including the small bedroom where she was shot. A large puddle of blood remained on the floor, and the walls and ceiling were splattered with blood — from his mother’s head, he said. “She was probably running into the closet and trying to hide,” he said.

As is all too typical in such raid, police also totally trashed the house. As the Sun-Sentinel reported: “Much of the interior of the three-bedroom house looked as if it had been hit by a tornado… Drawers were pulled from dressers, clothes were scattered, a bed was overturned, food and crockery had been knocked from kitchen cabinets.” The shrine to her dead sons was also destroyed, Singleton said.

Two Broward County Sheriff’s Office detectives are on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. They have not been named.

– Article from Stop the Drug War (DRCNet).



  1. Anonymous on

    Problem #1 – Why was a plain clothes officer taking part in the raid?

    “Police said Shaw emerged from a room and pointed a gun at plainclothes officer Patrick Cicci. Cicci fired once, killing Shaw. Cicci is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.”

    Problem #2 – OK; not again..

    “Family members expressed confusion about the shooting, saying Shaw was not a person they would have expected to threaten officers. “They say he had a gun,” said Miers. “My brother doesn’t have no gun.””

  2. Clearly not so -Anonymous on

    Those sick mother fuckers! We should all exercise our right to own and bear arms. Protect yourselves and your loved ones to the death! Take no more of this nonsense. It is time to turn the tables.

  3. Joshua Quartier Florida on

    As a daily marijuana user in the U.S. I have begun to notice a trend in the arrest and punshment of marijuana users.The Government and the Law Enforcement Agency along with their so called war on drugs consistantly seem to be picking on the little guy instead of going after big fish such as cocaine dealers,Crack dealers,and Meth Rings.Instead they justify their so called war on drugs and Congadulate themselves on bust of regular everyday hard working Americans such as my self for burning a joint after work.This country is going down the tubes and focusing on things irrelavent to the real issues in the United States.The Judicial system has ruined my life as well as millions of others with their faulty court room record keeping and SO CALLED WITHELD JUDIFICATION ,making good hard working poor parents such as myself with NO opportunity to get a career let alone a chance to provide for our families.So I erge everyone to standup and let your voice be heard!!They can stop one but they cant stop us all TOGETHER we can Unify and become a better Nation.My Voice will B heard,and My Will b Done!! FREE MARC EMERY NOTGUILTY



  5. pZ on

    better to booby trap the doors?

  6. Allthehype on

    …”Cicci’s killing of the homeowner was “apparent justifiable use of deadly force in self defense,” a spokesman said.”

    This man has the right to own guns. Just like everyone else in the USA. Then when police BREAK into HIS home, they say they are defending themselves from deadly force?



  7. The Balleehoo on

    The drug cops who shot that woman should be publicly expired before a firing squad, preferably by members of her family.
    The world would be a better place if we could round up ‘ALL’ the asshole cops, (and that’s most of them) and execute them one by one.

    Oh yeaaaahhhhh, I can dream.


  8. stoneddog on

    if you don’t cower in fear to public servants at all times you deserve to be shoot buy public servants. after all if you haven’t done anything wrong than there is no way the public servants could possibly abuse their power so they can make their quotas.

    i think we need to start calling police public servants because that’s what they are and it will make it harder for them to intimidate people. what sounds scarier public servants of police officer.

  9. Anonymous on

    I worry that these `officers` have watched WAY TOO MANY police movies!!!

  10. Reverend Draco on

    Is it time for We, the People, to take a page from the LEO book, and assume that *every* instance of dealing with the police will be violent, and take preemptive measures?

  11. maryjanesuncle on

    wow killing old ladies in their, homes whats next…babies in their cribs.. horridness at work

  12. Anonymous on

    Way to go Obama ! Need any help from Al-Queda to kill your own citizens ?
    Lots of Talibans-to-hire are seeking work !

  13. EastCoast420 on

    What ever happened to non lethal shots or beanbag shots. But they are PIGS not law enforcment. Nothing but cowards with guns and no brains.

  14. Brad Dean on

    “no police officers were injured”

    too bad

  15. Anonymous on

    I don’t understand why the police aren’t charged with murder in these cases. How can you get a warrant and break into someones home for possession. The Federal government should step in a shut these police departments down.

  16. Anonymous on

    I don’t understand why the police are charged with murder in these cases. How can you get a warrant and break into someones home for possession. The Federal government should step in a shut these police departments down.

  17. TAS on

    This just shows how sick our goverments really are.The war on drugs insain! We need to stop the war on drugs (people).

  18. Anonymous on

    The war on drugs is the new genocidal holocaust against innocent people.
    the only reason drugs are so valuable is the war on drugs, you have blood in your hands, you create the problem then you kill innocent people.
    we will all be killed slowly the same way, how do we know what really happened when they made entry in to those poor people’s home, they could say anything.

  19. Daniel Johnson on

    Law enforcement culture is seriously sick. I have no doubt these killings were planned in advance by the police involved, not for any political reasons but simply because the kinds of people attracted to police work are people who get off on violence and abusing power. It was a group thrill kill exercise, possibly a loyalty building exercise or “initiation” for newbie cops.

  20. mean old bastard on

    this is just bullshit murderous cops come on people

  21. Samson on

    This a much better alternative to legalization…..killing folks in their own homes speaks so much louder for liberty than legalizing & regulation would……sigh.