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Sunday, November 11, 2012

TUMEKE EXCLUSIVE: Did NZ Police tactics kill my friend Stephen McIntyre? PART 1



Stephen McIntyre was a good man.

He was a passionate father, husband and activist who fought against the marijuana laws of this country and within the anti-prohibition community, his warmth and calm sensibilities made him a well known and well liked leader.

I met Stephen years ago and had re-connected with him recently as he worked to set up Green Cross. In his later years, Stephen had moved from campaigning for the decriminalization of marijuana to focussing on medical cannabis. Green Cross was the realization of that activism. It provided medical quality marijuana to patients with a doctor's prescription. NZ law allows for doctors to prescribe synthetic marijuana and the 2010 Law Commission review called for that to be widened to organic marijuana as well.

That's where Green Cross came in. They had a list of patients with doctor's prescriptions whose illnesses ranged from those with chronic pain to cancer. Synthetic product did not work for many of these people.

I would joke to Stephen that he wasn't so much 'Doctors Without Borders' as 'Stoners Without Borders'.

Green Cross opened an office with a members lounge room and dispensary, similar to the California model. The office served as an information center on medical marijuana. The organisation was tireless in its dealings with the Ministry of Health in trying to shift the policy debate to allow those with written prescriptions to legally purchase organic marijuana from a registered center like Green Cross without fear of prosecution.

At the beginning of June this year, the Dactory was raided. The Dactory was a wild west shed out in New Lynn that was an open shop for marijuana smokers and dealers. It was the very type of operation Stephen shunned because of it's lack of self regulation or competence. During this raid, some of those arrested were allegedly yelling, 'why are you arresting us, what about Green Cross'?

Days after that raid, on June 8th, Police officers went to Green Cross demanding to be let in. They became very agitated and aggressive when refused entry and they were told to come back with a warrant if they wanted access to the building. They threatened to smash down the door, but calmed down very quickly when it was pointed out that the Green Cross security cameras were watching. Police then claimed to have an arrest warrant for one of the club members for breaching a protection order. The member met them outside and went cooperatively.

On the 20th of June two uniformed, friendly Police officers turned up at Green Cross and met Stephen. He said that both officers made very sympathetic noises about what Green Cross were trying to do on the medical marijuana front. Stephen was definitely left with the impression that they thought Green Cross were operating on the edge of the law, but because there is no profit based criminal activity going on, that they would be left alone.

On the 22nd of June, Police arrived at the Green Cross office while Stephen was there and pulled the old 'we smell cannabis' trick and started a search. They found 350 grams of medical quality marijuana and $1470 worth of cash. Stephen was arrested.

I met with him shortly after his arrest and he spoke with passion about how he would defend these charges. I remember the defiant look in his eyes as he spoke about the patients he worked with. He declared that this was going to be the moment that the medical marijuana debate was sparked, so to speak. The decriminalization debate, which had stagnated and gone no where of late, could open a new front.

I wished him all the best in this endeavor and pledged that I would do what I could to publicize the debate when it came to court. I wanted to help because I also found the idea of making sick people seeking pain relief from marijuana (and those who help them get that marijuana) into criminals a complete injustice.

Sadly, we'll never have that court date.

On Monday 16th July at approximately 8.15pm the Police turned up at the McIntyre's house. Stephen was teaching guitar lessons to 4 students while his wife and two teenage sons were at home. The Police claim they were conducting a bail check. However, Stephen had no bail conditions imposed upon him after the arrest other than agreeing to remain living at the address given at the time of arrest. There was no curfew.

What happened next is crucial to the question of whether or not the NZ Police used tactics that killed my friend.

The Police intimidated Stephen outside the front of his house and claimed they could smell cannabis while demanding to know what he would plead and threatening him with further charges if he turned the issue into a campaign.

It is now apparent that having the Police turn up at his home at night and demand to know what he was going to plead while threatening further charges had a terrible impact on Stephen.

On Sunday 22nd of July, Stephen, terrified beyond his wits by the Police threats, took his own life.

I was shocked and horrified the next day when I was informed. It would appear to me that the visit and the manner in which it was conducted, was intended to pressure Stephen into backing off his campaigning and into pleading guilty.

I want answers from the NZ Police and I'll do all I can to draw attention to what I see as despicable bullying tactics.

I have questions:

Why were the Police at Stephen's home on the 16th of July 'checking bail conditions' when Stephen had no bail conditions?

Why did the Police threaten and intimidate Stephen with further charges?

Is it normal to appear at a person's home when their lawyer is not informed and able to be present? and then to threaten further charges if a person doesn't plead guilty?

Why did the Police want to know how he would plead? Why was this information sought at night, at his home?

Why did the Police claim they could 'small cannabis'? And if they could, why did they not conduct a search of his house?

Are these bullying tactics supported by Police leaders?


I believe that these dirty intimidation tactics by the NZ Police must be exposed.

Stephen McIntyre was a good man, and he sure as hell didn't deserve to be terrified to death by the Police in his own home.

Part 2 and 3 of this story will be published this week.

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17 Comments:

At 11/11/12 6:50 am, Blogger Nitrium said...

Never fear, Greg O'Connor will come up with something. Perhaps it was the police who felt THEIR safety threatened by Steven, the Drug Lord - and the only way to ascertain he was not out committing violent drug related crimes was to drop by his house. Then Greg will say how the police will never feel safe until the happy day they are allowed a loaded Glock by their side at all times with one in the chamber, and an RPG in the trunk. NZers will agree with him.

 
At 11/11/12 7:00 am, Blogger Zoe Black said...

I've shared it a little around the web. Annoyed I can't do more but really thankful you have brought this to the attention of the public.

 
At 11/11/12 10:06 am, Blogger David Harrison said...

This is bloody disgusting. I have a condition that means I take painkillers ALL the time and the side effects are not nice, A little Marijuana really helps me, it settles my system down from the painkillers and it removes the pain way better. BUT it costs me a fortune and being on a benefit with 2 kids I can't afford it, So I too was looking forward to the green cross thing BUT our 'local' guy who was trying to set it up... Yep got busted when an Undercover appeared. and the old "we can smell Pot".. Can you get an OIA on Stephen and who was able to view his file, and Who HAD viewed it prior to the visit that ended in his untimly death. These 'officers' I use the term lightly More like THUGS need to be identified and charged with at least harassment and preferably Manslaughter. And they need to get rid of that sycophant O'conner and get someone in with some honor.

 
At 11/11/12 12:20 pm, Blogger Richard Christie said...

One question. Did Mr McIntyre have witnesses to his conversation with police outside his home on evening 16 July?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

 
At 11/11/12 12:28 pm, Blogger Weightgain4000 said...

I've previously met with Stephen regarding cannabis law reform - Stephen was a gentle passionate knowledgeable tireless campaigner for medical marijuana patients - and Im truly shocked and deeply deeply saddened to hear that the actions of the police caused him enough stress and pressure to make him take his own life - NZ has lost a truly wonderful caring individual

 
At 11/11/12 1:58 pm, OpenID Patrick O\'Brien said...

Shared — and thank you!

 
At 11/11/12 4:12 pm, Blogger Frank said...

There appears to be a growing perception that since National came to power, that the Police have run amok...

As if the mouth-frothing rhetoric of the likes of Collins, Tolley, et al, have emboldened an element of the Police force to act with impunity...

 
At 11/11/12 4:59 pm, Blogger Chris Trotter said...

A disturbing story, Martyn.

The Police must respond to the questions you have posed.

The idea that a person charged with an offence can be questioned by the Police about their plea and the general tenor of their defence is utterly unacceptable.

The conduct of a legal prosecution is the business of the courts - not the Police.

The implied threats allegedly issued to Mr McIntyre, which may have contributed to his suicide, need to be thoroughly and very publicly investigated.

Great journalism, Bomber.

 
At 11/11/12 5:15 pm, Blogger Richard Christie said...

@ Frank, well perhaps there is some argument for that viewpoint but the evidence is that it's not a new phenomenon. NZ Police is organisation that hides and shelters corruption within its ranks and refuses to acknowledge its shortcomings and mistakes.
Bruce Hutton, the officer who planted evidence against the innocent Arthur Thomas and later sheltered from investigation by the most senior police in the land is perhaps the most egregious example.
Until as a first step the Thomas case is addressed the NZ Police face an ever increasing loss of trust in the eyes of the public.

 
At 11/11/12 8:27 pm, Blogger Craig Malcolm said...

The loss of Stephen is so sad.

I was one of the four guitar students at Stephen's house the night the police came around. I can honestly say there was no smell of marijuana in the house - no doubt about it. RIP Stephen.

 
At 11/11/12 8:44 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

But what about the footy ?

 
At 11/11/12 9:42 pm, OpenID ministryofjusticenz said...

Every one commits blackmail who threatens, expressly or by implication, to make any accusation against any person (whether living or dead), to disclose something about any person (whether living or dead), or to cause serious damage to property or endanger the safety of any person with intent—
(a) to cause the person to whom the threat is made to act in accordance with the will of the person making the threat; and

 
At 12/11/12 2:09 am, Blogger recluse said...

“The Police intimidated Stephen outside the front of his house and claimed they could smell cannabis while demanding to know what he would plead and threatening him with further charges if he turned the issue into a campaign.”

Very democratic, that’s the type of response one can expect from police in China, Russia or any authoritarian state.

Consider:

“'This is the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition across the world'
Colorado voted to legalise recreational use last week in a move that could hurt the cartels and challenge the long US 'war on drugs'”


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/11/colorado-marijuana-law

“Marijuana's illegal status attained through racism, fraud and greed”

http://www.chieftain.com/news/local/article_ba21ef7e-3563-11df-9d83-001cc4c002e0.html

In this day and age, I regard Stephen McIntyre as a person whose campaign for medical and previously, decriminalization of cannabis, a valid and credible one when examining developments overseas and witnessing the harm of criminalization as this story highlights.

Consider the obvious burden on the public with: the expense of the justice system, much of the prison population consisting of those on drug charges, the opportunities it robs many users with having a conviction, the fact that it’s the drug of choice for the poor to relieve them from their mundane reality due to its ease of availability after alcohol compared to other drugs, and as this story highlights the pain it causes families due to the legal system.

I know a guy who a couple of years ago had his crop raided and witnessed the harassment by police. Like a swarm of flies to fresh meat, they went to absurd lengths in an attempt to burden him with further charges, too long to mention here, even lying about the number of plants grown. One got the impression they were unsatisfied with the justice’s ruling on the case. Since when did the police trump the authority of a judge?

I don’t take the stuff, but throughout my life know many who do and from experience I can say it is nowhere as disruptive as alcohol. Many times I witnessed such folks resort to fighting and violence when under the influence of alcohol but not so with cannabis. Why not at least decriminalise it and have similar laws that govern alcohol use enforced on it?

Amazing how this country is gaining the reputation of a stagnant, conservative, puritanical backwater. With Colorado and Washington state legalising recreational use of cannabis, even the US with an ugly history of conservatism seems to be mellowing out. While here previously with a legacy of liberalism is quickly falling by the wayside.

The police have demonstrated themselves as consistently out of control going by the record, it’s about time they realise they are servants to the public and not a law onto themselves.

 
At 12/11/12 9:47 am, Blogger countryboy said...

@ Recluse . Good post . Seen ' Boardwalk Empire ' ? A made for TV by HBO series ? Replace the booze with pot and you'll get the picture . I thought the age of the Masterpiece was over and I'm overjoyed that I'm wrong . The reason why pot is illegal in this dismal little backwater country ( As defined by it's ludicrous politicians and our embarrassing and perverted love affair with petty authority figures . ) is because it's an income stream for criminals like lawyers , police , court officials and the insurance scum . And lets not forget SERCO's nice new prisons .

Sadly , Stephen McIntyre is a victim of change . Just like those kids who shot each other for change in the killing fields of France , Germany etc .And look what we do with the honourable luxury of being able to choose our political representatives ? We sleep in and can't be arsed and in reality , that's what this is about . The ' She'll be right ' mentality has been replaced by the ' I can't be bothered , they're all crooks so what's the point ' mentality .

Lyse Doucet from the BBC had this to say about the social media . This is where change will come from . It'll come from you and I . Cunning crooks and cruel , lying scum will soon have no where to hide .

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogcollegeofjournalism/posts/Does-our-audience-still-need-us-The-TV-news-reporter-in-the-age-of-social-media

Change is happening as we watch . This may be a grand statement but I don't care . Humanity is about to make a great leap forward in terms of it's social , spiritual , intellectual and aesthetic evolution . We're witnessing a great , great event in human history and these times , more than at any other time is a superb time to be around .

I've said this before ; ' When things seem unjust , immoral , cruel or evil , change is already underway . '

 
At 12/11/12 11:55 am, Blogger DebsisDead said...

Quoting amerika as being somehow enlightened for permitting pot decrim ahead of other nations is misleading. Pot has been decriminalised under various state laws over the objections of the federal government and that is the nub of the problem for other 'sovereign' nations.
Over two centuries of argy bargy has provided a set of very clear rules in amerika about what the central (federal) government can do when dealing with 'recalcitrant' state governments.
Even so the feds have been hard out trying to stop state decrim e.g. DEA (feds) busting californian dispensaries (with that suckass murderer oblamblam cheering them on). Thus far states have mostly resisted altho suferred injustice in tax distribution particularly for law enforcement.
The rest of the world isn't so lucky there are no rules covering how amerika strong arms other countries consequently anything from interference in a nation's political structure (many examples from Whitlam's dismissal to funding terrorists in Syria and of course Latin America where US instigated coups have been a weekly occurrence for centuries).
Amerika uses drug prohibition as a major strategy for achieving foreign policy goals. It don't matter if it is funding terrorism (crack into LA to pay for Contras) or as an excuse to prevent indigenous cultures from reclaiming their assets (Colombia), amerika has built an empire outta the drug prohibition industry.
Semi-decrim shouldn't be considered enlightenment when it is just the same old exceptionalist hypocrisy.

 
At 12/11/12 2:52 pm, Blogger recluse said...

@countryboy. Totally agree with you

@DebsisDead. Agreed, but I insist that I never implied that the US was “enlightened” regarding this issue, I’m no americanophile. My intention was to highlight the backwards step this country is taking in regard to the whole issue of cannabis criminalisation socially.

Consider the record drug busts conducted over the past two or three years in these difficult times, perhaps for the government it’s a profitable revenue gathering venture considering the law changes facilitating it. But the government never considers the human cost, with many of those taking the stuff of humble backgrounds that have to endure the harassment of the police and legal system. Many of who are struggling to get by yet face fines, seizures, Community Work or prison time, along with the stigma of a criminal record.

Try paying a fine when money is tight. Seizing whatever they see fit. Community Work, working for free when one can’t find a job or struggles to hold one while battling to get by. Prison, WINZ cutting people from benefits where one prisoner per year costs about that of nine beneficiaries in a year, when indiscriminately cut from a benefit how do people get by? Crime, selling pot being one “criminal” avenue to make a buck. The criminal record, what a great way to condemn the poor to the status of hopeless pariahs. I know a raft of skilled talented people who are unemployed or underemployed in this country’s dismal labour market, wasting away, they can forget about emigrating to a better life in Australia or wherever, just because they were in possession of a plant. Funny how an overweight German can be honest about their criminal past, which included insider trading and embezzlement among others, yet immigrate here to run another dubious business while Tyson couldn’t even spend one day here.

With a government of bubble world neoliberal fanatics robbing those of humble standing here of any opportunities of “building a brighter future”, criminalisation of cannabis is just another weapon of social destruction they enhance and use to insulting and damaging effect.

The red tape they shed, they use to strangle the life and soul out of those pesky plebs (as these wealthy narcissistic ignoramuses see them).

 
At 3/12/12 2:47 pm, Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

I've included a link to this blog post in my own post here:

http://lifebehindtheirondrape.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/this-philosophically-munted-country.html

 

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