In the wake of the tragic shootout in Ogden, Utah, which left one police officer dead, many questions remain unanswered. Was Matthew Stewart, a US Army veteran and self-medicating medical marijuana patient, defending his home when he fired on a police narcotics task force last week? Or, was he a terrorist who should face execution for killing a police officer, and wounding several others?
As the story unfolds, we are learning details in spurts, from prosecutors and police, while Stewart himself remains hospitalized and under guard. Only Stewart’s estranged father, who has said that his son has mental issues, including PTSD, and self medicates with marijuana, has provided some insight that has helped shaped the story, and the mystery.
But what happened that night? What do we really know?
We know that at about 8:40 pm last Wednesday, January 5, twelve members of the the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force forced entry into the home of Matthew David Stewart, 37, while serving a search warrant, believing he was growing marijuana. Then, there was a firefight, which left 7-year police veteran Agent Jared Francom dead, and five other officers wounded. Also injured in the gunfight was home owner, Matthew David Stewart, 37.
In the late night hours following the shootout, we learn that Stewart works the overnight shift at a local Walmart, and leaves for work at 11:00 pm. This lends to the speculation that Stewart was asleep, or possibly in the shower when police knocked at the door. Just think for a minute, where are you in your morning routine two and a half hours before you leave for work? I’m still at least half an hour away from the first time I hit the snooze button.
We later learn that Stewart is a former specialist in the United States Army, and in a photo provided by his family, he bears an “Airborne” patch on the shoulder of his uniform, which implies that he had at least some specialized training. His father tells us that Stewart had some post-military security training, as well.
His father also tells the press that Matthew used drugs to try to deal with mental problems, possibly due to post-traumatic stress disorder, although he said his son had never gone to the Veterans Administration to be diagnosed or seek help. He goes on to say that Matthew often self-medicates with marijuana, and has grown pot in the past (Utah does not have a medical marijuana program). But Stewart insists his son does not sell drugs, and only grows marijuana for his personal use.
Then, four days after the shooting, on Saturday local media hysterically reported that a bomb had detonated inside the home while police were collecting evidence. Later, it was learned that a “suspicious device” was found in a closet in the house on Saturday. Because of “its appearance and other components located nearby,” a local bomb squad was called and detonated the device inside the house.
In other words, either Matthew David Stewart is a nutcase suburban terrorist, or police just blew up his vaporizer.
Speaking of which… On Monday, prosecuting attorney Dee Smith confirmed that a photograph of Stewart was found inside his home on Monday, in which he looks like a terrorist. “It appears to be a recent photo, based on his current beard size, and it depicted an individual dressed as a terrorist with some kind of bomb device,” the county attorney said.
Or, Stewart was a pot smoking, Wallmart working, every day guy, that happened to have one kick-ass Halloween costume. Don’t laugh, it’s possible, even highly plausible, considering that Stewart received the Army’s National Defense Service Medal for his service in the “War on Terror.”
But it’s just like authorities to fuck something up, like a good ‘ol fashioned heavily armed raid on a man growing a few pot plants, and then, rather than admit that the “War on Drugs” is wrong, and then play up the “terrorist” card.
Oh yeah, and it’s not like the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force have never been the center of controversy surrounding a search. In September, 2010, they shot and killed 45 year old Todd Blair within the first few seconds of a no-knock raid on his home, which turned up only a small amount of marijuana.
The one thing that should, but won’t, be learned from this case is that it’s time to end this pointless “War on Drugs” once and for all, and take the criminal element out of marijuana. At least one life, and probably two, would have been spared in Ogden, Utah.
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