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Parole Supervisor Not Charged For Smoking Seized Pot

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Parole and Probation Supervisor Shadman Afzal invited his co-workers to his home to celebrate the holidays last December, but when the host pulled out a bong and began smoking marijuana, the party was over.

One of the shocked co-workers recognized the marijuana. It had been confiscated the month before from someone on probation.

With a few drags on the pipe, Afzal's 16-year career in Multnomah County law enforcement ended. His co-workers told him they would have to report it, despite their reluctance to injure a man respected for his hard work -- and a man visibly suffering from the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease.

Afzal confessed to his boss the day after the party, and he hasn't been at work since. His resignation was effective Monday, and prosecutors announcedthis week that he won't face criminal charges.

"If I could explain it, I would explain it," Afzal said in an interview with The Oregonian. "It was so out of character for me. It was really stupid. I made a mistake."

But Afzal says he was emotionally distraught over the disease and his future ability to support his family.

"I went from somebody who exercises religiously -- I used to love to play soccer -- to somebody who is hardly able to walk," Afzal said. "I can't change the fact that it happened."

Afzal said he has difficulty talking about the incident without crying. "I've shamed my family. I've shamed my friends."

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office has decided not to file criminal charges because prosecutors believe that the degenerative neurological condition was a major contributing factor to Afzal's actions that night. Prosecutors believe Afzal was seriously depressed.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Norm Frink said Afzal did not get special treatment. He said his office has vigorously prosecuted other law enforcement officers for stealing drugs, but Afzal's illness made this case different.

"Here you've got a guy who became diagnosed with a serious debilitating disease," Frink said. "He has a long, good record with the county. He voluntarily reported his misconduct. I mean he had to go. . . . It's just a sad situation."

Parkinson's commonly causes physical symptoms such as involuntary tremors and loss of motor skills, but medical experts say it also can affect one's mental state, causing mood changes, depression, anxiety and even dementia. It typically surfaces in people who are in their 50s or 60s. Afzal is 43, and he says he's had the disease for two years.

Frink said his office agreed not to prosecute Afzal in return for his agreeing to resign. He also will give up his law-enforcement certification -- meaning he'll never work as a parole and probation officer again.

According to a district attorney's office memo, Afzal obtained a "small amount" of marijuana last November from a parole officer, who had confiscated it from an offender. She gave it to Afzal to watch while she printed photos of the marijuana as evidence. When she returned, Afzal said he had flushed the marijuana down the toilet.

"Despite being surprised by Afzal's response, the officer didn't push the matter any further since Afzal was her supervisor," the memo states. That marijuana resurfaced at the Dec. 9 party, where one of Afzal's coworkers recognized the container holding the weed as one seized from an offender.

Ironically, if Afzal had wanted to smoke marijuana, he might have been able to do so legally. His condition might have qualified him for an Oregon medical marijuana card -- the program allows cards to be issued for severe pain or persistent muscle spasms, among other conditions.

Whether Afzal would have been allowed to keep his job, however, is unclear. Steve Liday, the interim director of the Department of Community Justice, said his agency had never been presented with such a real-life case.

Liday said a county investigation found no wrongdoing by any other employees.

According to Afzal's resignation agreement, the county acknowledges that he is eligible for disability retirement under the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. The county also won't challenge any unemployment claim he makes, although a state official said the agency typically only gives benefits to employees who lost their job through no fault of their own.

Liday said he thinks the resignation agreement is fair: It took into consideration the high standards the public has for public officials charged with enforcing the law, as well as Afzal's personal circumstances.

"I'd call it a real tragedy," Liday said.



News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Oregon Live
Author: Aimee Green
Contact: aimeegreen@news.oregonian.com
Copyright: 2007 Oregon Live
Website: OregonLive.com: Everything Oregon
 

bigfanofpj

New Member
Not that I disagree with letting the guy off, but I'd say he DEFINITELY got special treatment.... If they prosecute other cops for stealing, why not him? It's not like he had a medical card (he should have btw) Nice doublespeak Mr DA.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Norm Frink said Afzal did not get special treatment. He said his office has vigorously prosecuted other law enforcement officers for stealing drugs, but Afzal's illness made this case different.
 
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