For two grams of marijuana, a Florida SWAT team stormed into a home and shot an unarmed man dead Tuesday, ending a month-long drug investigation on the 22-year-old man they had just killed.
Hillsborough County sheriff’s officials said SWAT team members perceived Levonia Riggins to be an “immediate threat.”
They were also sure to release a previous mugshot, painting him as a man who could not stay out of trouble with the law, even though it had been more than a year since he was last arrested.
However, his friends said he was just a man who enjoyed getting high.
Riggins has been arrested more than 20 times, according to state records. His most recent arrest was in April 2015 on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Before that, he had done jail time for burglary, grand theft and assorted probation violations.
“He was always a good person,” said Scott, who grew up with Riggins. “Yeah, he smokes his weed and stuff, but he was never into anything serious. He was very kind, always wanting to talk to people, always there for you.”
Scott said she heard from the family there was a baby in the house when deputies arrived, as well as other children adopted by Riggins’ adoptive mother, Jesse Williams.
“He hadn’t been in trouble in a while,” said Deantae Huff, 22, who also grew up with Riggins. “They could have just Tased him. We just saw him yesterday and he was happy as ever.”
The deputy who killed him has been identified as Caleb Johnson, 32, a seven-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Sheriff’s officials said they were under the impression that Riggins owned guns, but they made no mention of any guns found. And as you can see by his previous record, he does not appear to have ever used a gun during a crime.
They also said they had ordered everybody out of the house, but Riggins would not comply.
Other members of the household who had stepped out told police that he was in the rear of the house, which is when five SWAT team members entered the house and shot him.
It was 8 a.m. so perhaps he was sleeping, but that is never an excuse for cops who expect us to comply with every order at the drop of a hat.
It was just over two years ago that a Tampa police SWAT team, which is based out of Hillsborough County, raided a man’s home after investigating him for selling marijuana, shooting and killing the man.
Jason Wescott, 29, was found with .2 grams of marijuana, not even enough for a joint. His family filed a lawsuit this year.
Riggins’ two grams converts to less than an eighth of an ounce, enough for about four average sized joints. Hardly the sign of a dealer.