While many growers in California strive to work with law enforcement and local communities to build legitimate businesses, it isn’t 100% across the board. People from all walks of life choose cannabis, and some aren’t as friendly to working with the law. What started as serving paperwork ended in bloodshed in Durham, California, and one unstable grower now lies dead.
Over reaction escalates situation
On Monday, August 21st, Butte County code enforcement officers went to Mark Aaron Jensen’s residence and served paperwork. This was no SWAT raid, just the bureaucracy of notifying him his cannabis grow was illegal, with the possible steps to fall in line or face arrest.
Jensen, 56, took the matter poorly. He began calling the county code enforcement and Sherriff’s offices, making threats against officers. Threatening officers, now that constituted an arrestable offense. Knowing that Jensen possessed several firearms at home, the Sherriff’s office attempted to call Jensen and ask him to turn himself in to avoid confrontation. Instead, he continued to lash out.
On Tuesday, August 22nd, a crisis negotiation team and SWAT did go to his home to try and facilitate his peaceful surrender. Before they arrived, Jensen had already brandished a rifle at a passing motorist, apparently believing everyone was against him.
Man wigs out and aims at police
The female motorist called 911, saying Jensen threatened to shoot her if she did not immediately leave. The officers approached the residence in an armored vehicle and tried to communicate with the man with no success.
Then, around 7:30 pm, Jensen came out of his home waving a handgun, walked into the road, and pointed at police with the weapon. Deputy Matt Calkins fired a single shot, hitting Jensen. Paramedics tried to revive Jensen at the scene, but he did not survive.
Calkins, a 10-year veteran of the Butte County Sherriff’s Office, has been placed on admin duties until the investigation is completed. Jensen’s handgun, recovered at the scene, was in fact loaded.
A sad outcome
Not all police are bad, and not all people are rational. This incident shows that police are changing their tactics in dealing with growers. More choose opting for paperwork instead of power plays to handle enforcement more peacefully. But with the stigma of prohibition still fresh in the country’s mind, not everyone handles confrontation well.
It appears that at least in this case, officers were willing to work with the illegal grower, but he wanted to fight back, and go down swinging. The manner of Jensen’s grow violation was not available at the time of this article.
However, police haven’t studied the full scope of the incident yet. Durham police forces have been in shootings that made headlines before. Regardless, the best tactics for fighting police take place in the courtroom, not the street.