Authorities say 28-year-old Rolland Rohm signed his own death warrant when
he pointed a gun at an armored vehicle full of police officers. Rohm's
family says the authorities are blatantly lying.

And this week, the family of the slain pro-marijuana activist filed a civil
lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit alleging that Rohm, known as
Rollie to his friends, was wrongfully killed during a police standoff at
the Rainbow Farm Campground during Labor Day weekend 2001 -- and that
investigators conspired to cover it up.

"This was murder, pure and simple," Rohm's stepfather, John Livermore,
said. "It was a hate crime."

Rohm's death came at the end of a five-day police standoff at the
campground, which kicked off when Rohm and his partner, 46-year-old Grover
"Tom" Crosslin, barricaded themselves in a farmhouse on the campground
property after torching several buildings on the property.

The men were reportedly upset about court proceedings in which Crosslin was
facing possible prison time and Rohm had had his son, Robert, 12, removed
from his home and placed in state foster care.

While police received tips from neighbors that the men were armed, a crew
from WNDU-TV, Channel 16, South Bend, covering the fires in a helicopter,
were reportedly fired upon from the ground. Because firing at an aircraft
is a federal offense, FBI teams were soon on scene, along with the local
and state police agencies responding.

Those FBI agents proved to be Crosslin's undoing on Sept. 3, 2001, when he
and a friend, Brandon Peoples, encountered FBI sharpshooters in the woods
near the home. Police reports indicate that Crosslin raised his Ruger
Mini-14 rifle in the direction of one of the snipers, causing others in the
area to shoot him immediately.

But Rohm was still alive in the barricaded farmhouse. After friends and
family members pleaded with him to turn himself in all through the night,
he finally agreed, but said he needed some sleep before doing so.

Rohm, however, never turned himself in. When flames erupted from the
farmhouse early on the morning of Sept. 4, police moved in to prevent his
escape, with one team using a tanklike Light Armored Vehicle to move around
one side of the house.

And it was at that vehicle that authorities say Rohm aimed his rifle while
he knelt next to a small pine tree, causing the Michigan State Police
sharpshooters to kill him.

Not so, Livermore said.

"Neither of the autopsies agree with what is in the reports," he said.
"There is no way he was pointing a gun at them."

The lawsuit, in which Rohm's estate is listed as plaintiff, names as
defendants Daniel Lubelan, John Julin, Jerry Ellsworth, Steve Homrich,
David Bower, Joseph Zangaro, Joe Jones and Dave Rampy.

While police reports list Lubelan and Julin as the triggermen, all eight
men were members of a Michigan State Police team who were maintaining a
perimeter around the farmhouse at the time of the killing.

A spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police said the agency maintains a
policy of not commenting on matters involving pending litigation.

Scott Teter, then the Cass County prosecutor, did not file charges in the
deaths. He said his investigation showed conclusively that the deaths of
both men were justifiable homicides under Michigan law.

Dearborn, Mich., attorney Christopher Keane, who is representing the
Livermore family, said they have been gathering information in preparation
for the lawsuit for more than a year.

"We have a very strong case," Keane said. "The only justification for a
shooting like this is if someone is in imminent danger."

"No one was in imminent danger" from Rohm, he said.

Should the Livermores win the civil case, they could receive monetary
compensation, in which case John Livermore said the vast majority would go
to Robert Rohm, who has lived with other relatives since the loss of his

But Livermore said he and his family are looking for something besides
money in the case: They want answers. Answers about inconsistencies they
believe are in the published police reports about the killing. Answers
about disturbing discoveries they say they have made, such as the slain
man's testicles disappearing some time during the police investigations.

And answers about why Rohm was killed in the first place, if, as they
believe, he was not threatening the police in any way.

"We want the truth, and we want what is right for (Robert)," Livermore
said. "There are a lot of things about this that don't add up."

No court dates have been set for the case.

Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2003
Source: South Bend Tribune (IN)
Copyright: 2003 South Bend Tribune
Author: Adam Jackson, Tribune Staff Writer
Cited: Rainbow Farm