officer's son-in-law says
By WILLIAM C. SINGLETON III
It may be time for the government to consider legalizing drugs, said the son-in-law of a slain Birmingham police officer.
"They need to step in and control it like they did liquor 50 years ago when they were bootlegging it," said Tim Banna, 40, whose father-in-law, Carlos Owen, was gunned down at a drug house in Ensley one year ago today. "They've got all these officers risking their lives over this."
Seated in a Jefferson County Circuit courtroom during the trial of a man accused of killing three police officers, Banna said it's not his grief talking.
He just feels a general frustration about the drug trade and the inability to stop it, he said.
Officers venture into dangerous areas to bust drug dealers, only to see another dealer take their place.
"All these drug dealers are out there, and you've got them sitting in line waiting to take the place" of the next one taken off the streets, he said.
Kerry Spencer, 25, is on trial charged with capital murder in the killings of three police officers and attempted murder of a fourth.
Police have said drugs were sold in the apartment where the officers were killed. Spencer's attorney, Mike Blalock, admitted during opening testimony the residence was a drug house, and his client armed himself because such houses were always being robbed.
Spencer had claimed self-defense in the shooting, saying officers startled him as he slept in another room. When he saw officers pointing what looked like a weapon, he fired on them.
Banna said Owen wanted to make a difference in the community.
"He knew the risk and he wanted his beat clean," Banna said. "That's what he told me."
But Banna doesn't want to see more officers killed over a war that seems endless.
"When is it going to stop?" he said. "We've got to get to a point where we have some type of government control over the drugs. These policemen are risking their lives to do it. Eventually somebody's going to have to draw the line."