At 11p.m on December 26, 2001 police in Prentiss, Mississippi raided the residence of Cory Maye, a 21-year-old father who was at home with his 18-month-old daughter Ta'Corriana.Link
The cops were looking for drugs and smashed through the back door. In the ensuing chaos, Maye hunkered down with his daughter in a bedroom and when the police broke down that door, he fired three bullets, one of which killed Officer Ron Jones. Maye testified in court that the police did not identify themselves until after they had entered his residence; indeed, he testified that they did not identify themselves until after he had fired his shots. Once they did, he said he put his weapon on the floor, slid it toward police, and surrendered.
The police, who refused to talk with reason.tv, tell a different story. They claim that they identified themselves multiple times before entering Maye's house and bedroom, and that there was no way Maye couldn't have known who they were. A jury rejected Maye's case that he was acting in self-defense and he was sentenced to death for the murder of Office Ron Jones.
"Mississippi Drug War Blues" is a story about the intersection of race (Maye is black and Jones was white); the war on drugs; the disturbing increase in the militarization of police tactics; and systemic flaws in the criminal justice and expert-testimony systems. It is a tragedy in which one man is dead and another may spend his life in prison.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects