State police went grossly overboard in their pursuit of Gregory A. Longenecker whose body was found July 9 under a bulldozer driven by Pennsylvania state trooper who was searching for him in thick brush.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) blasted state police for calling in a helicopter and commandeering a Pennsylvania Game Commission bulldozer to track the 51-year-old Longenecker, who’d fled law enforcement on state game lands about 10 miles from his hometown of Reading, PA.
Police said they found 10 cannabis plants at the scene.
“We simply cannot understand how a man is dead over an investigation involving 10 cannabis plants,” said Patrick Nightingale, executive director of NORML’s Pittsburgh chapter and a former Allegheny County, PA prosecutor. “The whole investigation was ridiculous. I’ve seen law enforcement take down major heroin traffickers that haven’t engaged in this level of aggression.”
Nightingale questioned law enforcements’ decision to pursue the suspect in such an extreme manner, especially over such a minor offense.
“It is inconceivable to me that a man lost his life during an investigation of a very small grow,” said Nightingale. “The heavy-handed tactics employed cannot be justified by the seizure of ten plants. I do not understand why law enforcement couldn’t simply wait. A vehicle was on scene and another individual was taken into custody. Rip the plants, run the plate and ask the arrestee what his friend’s name is. How difficult is that?”
NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri called the entire event a result of our draconic and failed criminalization of marijuana that should have been prevented.
“Not only was the use of resources in this matter excessive and the tactics highly questionable, but more importantly a man lost his life over the act of growing a plant that is now legally regulated in a majority of US states,” said Altieri. “No matter your opinion on marijuana legalization, the penalty for growing cannabis should never be an extrajudicial death sentence.”