Pubdate: Thu,  2 Oct 2003
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Amarillo Globe-News
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)

Entire Panhandle Not Responsible

A travesty of justice occurred in Tulia in 1999.

A questionable drug sting with little or no evidence other than the
word of one discredited undercover officer who may eventually find
himself on the wrong side of the law resulted in a national disgrace
and a controversy that still reverberates.

However, one miscarriage of justice does not justify

That is precisely why more than 40 Panhandle cities, counties and
government/elected officials should be not held accountable for the
actions of, at most, a few.

So far, only one person faces legal charges related to the Tulia drug
sting fiasco, and that is former undercover officer Tom Coleman, who
fingered 46 people, 39 of them black, on dubious drug-related charges.

To hold almost the entire Panhandle law enforcement community
responsible for Coleman's actions is another travesty of justice.

That is the basis of a lawsuit filed in August by Tonya White and Zuri
Bossett, two of the 46 people Coleman victimized.

The lawsuit alleges that 26 Panhandle counties and four cities
included in the task force that used Coleman as an undercover officer
violated White and Bosset's constitutional rights.

Not surprisingly, many of these entities have requested the lawsuit be

Amarillo attorney Jeff Blackburn alleged in an Associated Press report
that counties and cities turned over their narcotics enforcement
responsibilities to the task force, and therefore they are also

Coleman should be held responsible for his own actions, and in time he
will have his day in court.

Why should cities and counties, more specifically taxpayers, be held
financially liable for Coleman, a person most Panhandle county and
city officials probably had never heard of before 1999?

Why should the entire Panhandle pay the price for his

If successful, this case sets a horrible precedent for law enforcement
officials and taxpayers who will be held responsible for the actions
of every law enforcement officer entrusted with carrying out justice.

Where does justice draw the line in Tulia?
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