BTW, 007, please give your honest impression of this story, as a cop:
Police were selling pot at time of fatal drug bust
Chandler police detectives were selling 500 pounds of marijuana in an operation called a "reversal" when they became the victims of a botched drug rip-off in south Phoenix, according to court records released Friday.
Two defendants in the fatal shooting of Detective Carlos Ledesma, 34, who were identified in the documents as Thadika Singleton and John Howard Webber III, showed police $250,000, demonstrating they had the cash to buy the pot. They showed the money during a meeting with undercover agents at a fast-food restaurant at 19th Avenue and Broadway Road in Phoenix.
Later, in a parking lot at 19th Avenue and Baseline Road, police showed the suspects a sample of the marijuana as part of arrangements to make the sale later Wednesday afternoon at a house in south Phoenix, according to documents prepared by Phoenix police.
As four undercover detectives and an informant arrived at the house, two officers drove an unmarked vehicle loaded with marijuana into a garage of a house in the 2300 block of West Maldonado Avenue. Soon, shots rang out inside the house, killing Ledesma and injuring two other detectives.
Chandler and Phoenix police confirmed the scenario as efforts were under way to firm up plans for Ledesma's funeral.
Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler police spokesman, said the operation did not involve a traditional exchange where dealers sell drugs to undercover agents. In this case, the undercover officers had the drugs and the suspects had the cash.
"This is a reversal," he said. "This is seized evidentiary marijuana."
Neither Favazzo nor his Phoenix police counterpart, Sgt. Steve Martos, could say why the Chandler detectives were attempting to sell the marijuana to buyers in south Phoenix.
Charles Fulton, 34, owner of the house where the shooting took place, said he knows Singleton, 38, and Webber, 37, from DJ's Gentleman's Club, a strip club Fulton runs on University Drive in Phoenix.
Fulton described Singleton and Webber as "big teddy bears" and doubted either was experienced in drug deals.
"They're not thugs, they're not drug dealers," Fulton said. "I've never seen them smoke weed or ever get upset."
An Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman said Webber was on parole from a conviction in Kentucky.
Quincy Manning, a manager at the strip club, said Webber was known as "Fat Cat" and also said that he had been released from prison in Kentucky.
A John Webber who was born the same month and year as John Howard Webber had been serving a 15-year sentence at the Eastein Kentucky Correctional Complex for trafficking in marijuana, Kentucky Department of Corrections show.
Manning said he knew Singleton as a master of ceremonies at various hip-hop shows and nightclubs and at such venues as US Airways Center and Celebrity Theatre, in addition to interviewing national hip-hop artists on local radio programs.
"They're good people, or so I thought," Manning said.
The botched drug rip-off on Wednesday evening also left two suspects dead and another hospitalized, while five others were arrested on charges ranging from first-degree murder to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
One of the dead was identified Friday as Markiese Royalty. The second suspect killed in the shootout has not been identified by Phoenix police.
In addition to Singleton and Webber, the suspects in custody were identified as Jerry Cockhearn III, 34; Doarnell Jackson, 35; and Eldridge Gittens, 34. Royalty was believed to be 26 and Cockhearn's cousin. Bond was set at $3 million for each suspect.
Jackson, Webber and Cockhearn all have criminal records.
Jackson was accused in December 2001 of forcing his way into his ex-girlfriend's apartment, pointing a handgun at her, and punching and choking her, according to Maricopa County Superior Court records. He eventually was placed on probation for disorderly conduct after the victim did not cooperate with prosecutors.
When Jackson violated his probation, he served a year in the Arizona Department of Corrections and was released in January 2006.
Cockhearn was placed on probation for four years in 2005 for armed robbery after he and another defendant were accused of pointing at gun at two men in Scottsdale and demanding that they hand over their belongings, according to Superior Court records.
From NORML archives.