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But This Time, SHAME Enters The Story

by Preston Peet-

October 20, 2000

'We're not happy with those national procedures now. We're going to back off of this knocking-down-doors. There's going to have to be some really strong evidence that something life- threatening is actually there. We're getting off of that. I mean, that's bullshit, if you'll pardon my French.'
--Lebanon, TN Mayor John Fox

On the eastern edge of the Lebanon, Tennessee city limits, relaxing for the early October evening in front of his television, 64-year-old John Adams had no remotest reason to imagine that the War on Drugs was coming after him. But in the dark out there on Joseph Street, just outside his double- wide trailer's door in the predominantly black section of town, crouched a team of federally trained narcotics agents in black uniforms, a drug warrant, and itchy trigger fingers.

Wham, Bam, Sorry, Ma'Am

Adams' 61-year-old wife Loraine, right at 10PM that night of October 4, heard someone knock thunderously at the door. Asking who it was only provoked a harder knock, and then BLAM, the double-wide's door was kicked in by an invasion squad of seven drug-war troopers in full combat gear--and wearing ski masks, according to one close family friend. Cuffing Loraine, they shoved her back towards a bedroom, whereupon she yelled to her husband that someone was breaking in, and to get his gun.

The police story alleges that Adams fired his sawn-off shotgun at Lebanon narcs Kyle Shedran and Greg Day, as they came around the corner to where Adams sat in front of his TV. They were "forced to fire back" in the WORLDNETDAILY version of the invasion, mortally wounding Adams. Afterward, a Medivac helicopter flew the bleeding victim to Vanderbilt University Hospital, where he died in surgery about an hour and a half later.

Narc-squad officers Shedran and Day were placed on paid administrative leave immediately following the trailer invasion and shooting, while state cops began investigating. The raid's supervisor, 10-year veteran lieutenant Steven Nokes, was fired on Oct. 10, and officer Tommy Maggort was placed on unpaid leave. Both had been involved in the pre-raid surveillance for the narco squad, yet neither somehow noticed that they were targeting not only the wrong residence, but indeed the wrong kind of building: hitting a TRAILER, instead of a HOUSE!

'Didn't Even Drink Alcohol'

"They, the police, were supposed to be targeting the [individual] who owns the house next door," explains former Wilson County commissioner Natchel Palmer, who became very familiar with John Adams and his family over many years. The elder Adams, Palmer recalled sadly for HT, "was retired from 37 years at Precision Rubber Company. He had been sick, and retired on account of his health. He never did drugs, didn't even drink alcohol. He and his wife were church-going people. He was on disability, took him several years to get it, but they paid him a lump sum, and so he bought himself a new double-wide trailer."

The Adams trailer and one single house were the only residences on that stretch of Joseph Street. Asked if there was any possible resemblance between the two structures, Palmer responded, "It's a house! John's is a double-wide trailer! John's was on the corner, and [the other] was the house next door. But you can tell a house from a trailer!"

Did They Even READ The Warrant?
Lebanon Police Chief Billy Weeks, at a press conference after the shooting, called it a "severe, costly mistake. They were not the target of our investigation. We hate that it happened." He said that Adams' trailer was mistakenly described on the search warrant carried by the raid squad, but that the correct address had been plainly written there. Lebanon cops had allegedly made at least one prior dope buy at the targeted house nearby, says Commissioner Palmer.

Mayor Fox, speaking to HT later, said, "The problem was that [the targeted individual] had parked in the wrong driveway, and that is what bought about most of the confusion." The search warrant had been written, he indicated, largely based on descriptions given by an anonymous informant to the cops, who themselves had only conducted a perfunctory "drive-by" surveillance of the two Joseph Street residences: "It's a confusing street. It's a turn, you turn off the main road, Blue Bird Road, onto a street, and then you have to make another turn to the right almost immediately. So there are two houses; it could be confusing if you went out at night. As far as confusion about which house was which, I think they knew where they were going, they weren't lost. They had been there, there was just misinformation." (It's also conceivable the cops were only identifying the "target residence" here based exclusively on the make or license plates of the vehicle that happened to be parked near it that night, without bothering to check any more of their snitch's information written into the warrant they were carrying.)

A Shotgun Blast In A Trailer, And He MISSED?

Commissioner Palmer told HT what he thinks of the police version of events. "I don't see how anyone with any training at all could make a mistake with where they were going," said Palmer. "This [individual named on the warrant] had been known for selling drugs, and has even been arrested before. How they could get the two houses mixed up is just inappropriate." Sounding angrier as he spoke, Palmer continued, "They said he fired, but it seems to me if he fired a shotgun, somebody would have been hit. And there should be some buckshot in the wall or something."

The Lebanon cops, says WORLDNETDAILY, have cut a large portion out of the trailer wall, claiming it contains evidence of Adams having fired his shotgun. Palmer is skeptical: "If you've fired a shotgun, you know that the buckshot is going to scatter. But even at that, his wife heard someone breaking in and said to get the gun, and quite naturally he had it."

'Narco Ninjas': The DEA Script For Invasive Entry

Noting that Loraine Adams says the cops never identified themselves before breaking down the door, Palmer adds, "Now I am not sure, but I have heard that the police had ski masks on. I never heard of the police using ski masks before. I can't understand why the police would need masks. The crooks are the ones who use those, the police shouldn't need to hide their faces. Anyone comes in your home with a ski-mask on, you're going to think he's a crook."

In fact, the wearing of ski masks and plain, dark combat outfits devoid of police insignia has become common midnight-raid fashion among local American narc squads over the last 20 years of the US War on Drugs. If the Lebanon cops are wearing ski masks on dope raids, though, Mayor Fox says he hasn't heard about it yet. "I have been on drug raids myself with them," he tells HT, "and have not ever seen them wear those things. This is the first time I ever heard that. And the chief is very candid with me. I would fire him in a minute for distortion or cover-up on anything, not just John Adams' case."

Acknowledging that these "Narco Ninja" tactics have indeed become overwhelmingly popular with police departments around the country, Mayor Fox made it clear he does not condone them for his own town's cops. However, he also acknowledged that his cops are closely counseled in drug busting tactics by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the prime promoter of the Ninja Narco vogue for violent entry and concealed identity among America's rising generation of storm troopers.

It's The National Way

"Our guys, the supervisor on the scene," Fox told HT, "was trained with the DEA. We have an agreement with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Feds, we have a policeman working with them full time. I mean, he's there, he works full time for them. He's our guy, but he's down there. They are being trained. We had a well-qualified, highly trained individual in charge there. And we were following not only OUR procedures, but national procedures. It is the national way."

Then the Mayor thoughtfully continued: "But we are not happy with those national procedures now. We're going to back off of this knocking-down- doors. There's going to have to be some really strong evidence that something life-threatening is actually there."

Which obviously brought to mind the matter of the Lebanon dope squad's black uniforms (recommended to local cops everywhere by the DEA, on the plain realistic basis that citizens are sure to file lots fewer complaints about police violence after narcotics raids, if they have no way to tell the officers' names or ranks, or even what kind of cop squad they're operating with.) "We're coming off the black uniforms," Mayor Fox says he's already ordered Police Chief Weeks. "I told him to get rid of the damn black uniforms, get rid of them! When we go up to knock on a door, we're going to have on our suit and tie, or our police uniform, and that's it. And when they open the door, a citizen is going to be a citizen until there is actually proof of guilt."

'This Was A Man Got Killed Here'

The slaying of a perfectly innocent, law-abiding 64-year-old disabled retiree, well known to the Lebanon community, has manifestly taken some of the glamour out of midnight Ninja drug busting for the local authorities. Apologizing to the widow was a chastening experience. "I went to the lady's house the day before the funeral," recalls Mayor Fox, "and I sat down with her, and she with me, and she was very gracious. The Police Chief has done the same thing, trying to express our sorrow to the lady. The chief cried over it, and when I learned we had made a mistake there in that situation, that we had killed an innocent man, I had to wipe tears from my eyes. I mean now, here, I had spoken to him two days earlier! We're not talking about going in with the SWAT bunch and wiping out some criminal. This was a man that got killed here."

Little Lebanon, TN, now has a brand-new citizens' review board of nine persons, in hopes of forestalling future police tragedies. "We have really three direct victims here, or four," Mayor Fox concludes. "We have Loraine, we have of course John, and the two policemen. Really, it's just terrible. But yes, we will have some broad sweeping changes, a lot of softening. Even if it is the national procedure, we are not going to do that."

by Preston Peet, Special to HighWitness News

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