Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Torture In Tennessee

Slowly but surely, several bloggers in the state have been discovering the incident in Campbell County where law enforcement officers went way beyond the norm while on a "drug raid" at the home of Eugene Siler, who was beaten for over two hours - and Siler has an audio tape that should burn your ears off.

Links to the event and the tape and transcripts are here at Volunteer Voters:

You’re not f***ing listening. You hear what I told you? I told you not to be talking. Didn’t I tell you not to be talking? That’s just the f***ing beginning. This motherf***er right here, he loves seeing blood. He loves it. He loves seeing blood. You’re talking too much. Listen to what I’m telling you. He loves f***ing seeing blood. He’ll beat your ass and lick it off of you."

NIT has a link, as well as Blake Wylie.

The officers involved were sentenced, according to Wylie's post, to sentences ranging from 3 to 5 years.

How often does this happen? Having worked as a reporter since 1985, I could not name all the times allegations of illegal behaviour and scandalous tactics landed in my lap. Ultimately, those invovled decided to stay silent out of fear of reprisals.

One interesting element of this story arrives in a report from Feb. 2005:

This incident is just another example of the increasingly rampant abuses of power by Byrne grant-funded drug task forces. The Byrne grant program was created in 1988 to provide federal funds to help states fight violent crime and drugs. The largest proportion of Byrne grant funding is used for regional narcotics task forces in which federal, state, and local drug law enforcement agencies and prosecutors coordinate their drug-fighting efforts. There is little federal oversight of Byrne Program grants, and lack of federal supervision has been blamed for recent scandals involving regional narcotics task forces.

Siler's case exemplifies a pattern of controversial and corrupt practices by drug task forces across the country in the name of drug law enforcement. The lack of oversight of these drug task forces not only enables abuse but also creates a lack of financial accountability. Campbell County's Chief Deputy, Charlie Scott, recently admitted that former Deputy, David Webber, the county’s primary narcotics officer and one of the officers involved in the Siler incident, failed to account for $4,000 of the department's drug fund money in 2004, which he received for "undercover drug investigations."

During that same month, Webber helped to organize the biggest drug bust in Campbell County’s history, during which 144 suspects were arrested. Since being hired in 1997, Webber has helped the Campbell County Sheriff's Department become nationally recognized for its zealous "war on drugs" and almost-daily arrests of drug offenders, despite criticism of the Byrne grant criteria, which bases their funding on the number of arrests made.


  1. I used to think only third-world countries had thugs for police and crooks for leaders. I think differently now-a-days.

  2. Anonymous11:12 PM

    And consider the effect such prohibition efforts has on the mentality of our populace. One might view the ease with which the American public was propagandized into Iraq as the culmination of a war on everything mentality.

  3. May I begin tearing my hair out now?


  4. Very scary.. it all trickles down from the 'top' doesn't it?

  5. OXYMORON6:36 PM

    I remember when deputies carried cattle prods.