Another Drug War Casualty: Young Mother Shot While Holding Infant Son
Ohio prosecutors charged police Sgt. Joseph Chavalia with two misdemeanor crimes related to the January shooting death of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson in botched SWAT raid
By Jordan Smith,
9:51AM, Fri. Mar. 28, 2008
On March 17 prosecutors in Lima, Ohio, charged police Sgt. Joseph Chavalia with two misdemeanor crimes related to the January shooting death of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson, who Chavalia killed during a drug raid at the house Wilson shared with her boyfriend, Anthony Terry, the subject of the raid.
Wilson was in an upstairs bedroom at the time of the raid, and was holding her infant son when she was shot -- the child was maimed, but lived. Police also shot two dogs; one died. Five other children, ranging in age from three to eight, were also inside the home, but none were physically harmed.
The shooting death enraged Lima residents who say the police commonly engage in racial profiling in the city of 38,000, reports The New York Times. The shooting has prompted a series of rallies and marches in the days after Wilson's death in January, the daily reports. Police have offered no evidence that Wilson was in any way threatening the SWAT team members at the time they burst into the home -- nor have they explained their decision to use such deadly tactics in a home filled with young children. Police said Terry was the subject of a long-term investigation, but said that Wilson was never suspected of any criminal behavior.
Now Chavalia, a 31-year veteran of the 77-officer police department, is being charged with two misdemeanor offenses, negligent homicide and negligent assault; if convicted of both, Chavalia faces up to just 8 months in prison, reports the Drug Reform Coordination Network. The minor charges have enraged residents anew. "Any time a man shoots through a baby and kills an unarmed woman, and is charged with two misdemeanors, I think it would be an understatement to say that that's unacceptable," Lima NAACP President Jason Upthegrove told the Associated Press. Amazingly, Lima Police Chief Greg Garlock seemed a tad more upset about his officer being charged than about Wilson's murder: "It's a sad day for us that one of our officers was indicted," he said.
Upthegrove said the NAACP will be asking the U.S. Dept. of Justice to conduct an independent review of the case.