LOS ANGELES, CA — A raid team was sent to break into a home after allegedly smelling chemicals outside the building. Instead of the meth lab they were hoping to find, deputies barged in on a sleeping 80-year-old man with poor vision. The retired engineer was shot to death while still in his bed, as the invaders searched the home hoping to enforce prohibition laws.
Dispatching a “Gunman”
In the remote desert area of Littlerock, in unincorporated Los Angeles county, the property of Eugene Mallory and Tonya Pate was drawn under fire when local police thought they smelled chemicals associated with making methamphetamines on the property. On the morning of June 27th, 2013, a raid team was sent to the property to serve a no-knock search warrant.
At around 7:30 a.m., prohibition-enforcement agents barged into the ranch through an unlocked front door. They quickly made their way to the master bedroom where Eugene Mallory, 80, resided. Hearing unwelcome strangers in his house, the octogenarian had allegedly picked up a pistol. Sergeant John Bones saw the armed homeowner and opened fire with his submachine gun. Six rounds struck and killed Mr. Mallory.
Mallory — the “gunman” as NBC Los Angeles labeled him — was pronounced dead at the scene. The actual shooters were not injured; the homeowner had not fired a shot.
Police claimed that Mallory raised his weapon at them. But the only witnesses were the killers themselves, and his family will never know for sure. Dead men tell no tales.
Its easy to imagine why Mr. Mallory might have raised his pistol. A man of his years must have realized that virtuous members of the community do not break into the homes of strangers while they sleep. A man’s natural reaction to hearing intruders is to attempt to defend your life and your family. And in a groggy split-second decision, who could possibly discern the intentions of masked men entering your bedroom? His wife pointed out that he was severely hearing impaired, and hadn’t even had time to pick up his glasses, which were sitting on the nightstand next to his bullet-riddled corpse. Mallory’s failing senses would have would have given him no way to positively identify that the strangers were actually police officers.
Shot in Bed
Police seemed to have difficulty getting the story straight about when and where Mr. Mallory was shot. An initial report claimed that he was shot in his hallway while charging at police, and was moved by paramedics into his bed after being shot. But later that story changed when the shooter admitted during an internal investigation that Mallory was not charging at him at the time of the shooting.
In fact, audio recordings of the event show that commands to drop the gun were given after the bullets were fired, contrary to officers’ initial statements.
“He was shot in his bed before there was any warning given,” said James Bergener, who is representing his widow.
Tonya Pate, the victim’s 48-year-old widow, described the scene: “I came back to the bloody bedroom. There was blood just running down the back of the bed. The covers were just saturated in thick, thick blood. The mask that they put on to help you breathe, it was just full of it. I was just sick.”
Salvaging Credibility By Blaming the Victim
Disappointed deputies found no meth on the property, but they did confiscate Mallory’s two pistols. In another part of the property — a trailer where his wife’s 22-year-old son lives — police confiscated a small amount of medical marijuana from the son’s bedroom. They touted this as a successful outcome to their aggressive raid. They had cleared the streets of some life-destroying plants.
“The truth of the matter is it was a narcotics search warrant. And what did they find on the premises? They found marijuana and they found a full grow operation that was producing the marijuana on site,” gloated sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
This “grow operation” that the killers were touting could have been as simple as a pot and a watering can. Instead of admitting their mistake and begging the family’s forgiveness, the department redoubled its efforts to make criminals out of the family.
“There was a drug operation that was certainly going on in this house,” Whitmore declared.
Tonya Pate described the accusations of their home being a drug operation as “a total lie… so wrong.”
“He would never point a gun at officers. He respected law [enforcement] and fire[fighters], and always gave them thumbs-up,” said Pate. “Every day I stay in that house with that bloody bedroom … where I know he was taken from me for no reason.”
View Reason’s interview with the widow here:
Justified and Legal
A review by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office declared the shooter acted “lawfully in self-defense and defense of others.”
“Age does not preclude somebody from being aggressive toward deputies,” sneered the department spokesperson. “The lesson here is… don’t pull a gun on a deputy.”
The government’s obtuse position in blaming the victim and washing itself clean of all culpability is endemic of the systematic problem seen around the country in law enforcement.
“All we know is we have a dead innocent man — a law-abiding, high security clearance gentleman, electrical engineer, fixture in the community dead, leaving a grieving widow…no evidence of any meth ever on that property,” said attorney Mark Algorri.
Pate is suing Los Angeles County for $50 Million in a wrongful death claim.
The brutal raid tactics only further to put innocent homeowners in no-win situations; forced to decide in a moment’s notice whether to defend themselves from criminals or submit to police officers. Choosing the wrong decision in that dazed instant can ruin an innocent person’s life.
Mallory’s death is but another in a long, gruesome list of casualties caused by the War on Drugs. The violence spurred as a direct result of the prohibition laws themselves is far beyond any negative consequence of just leaving people alone to pursue their own desires.
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Demand the department stop performing these reckless, irresponsible raids.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
4700 Ramona Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Complaints: (800) 698-8255