All along, people who were not involved in the case have looked on and wondered whether a military-style assault on the home of a man credibly suspected of nothing more than raising a few marijuana plants was justified in any way, shape or form. Militarizing minor drug investigations, it would seem, vastly increases the risk to suspects, police and innocent bystanders. The result of the raid on Stewart's home certainly does nothing to undermine that concern.
Key to Stewart's defense was the argument that the officers conducting the raid had not adequately identified themselves and that the suspect quite reasonably feared he was the target, not of a lawfully warranted search, but of a home invasion carried out by a bunch of thugs. Information about the raid released to the public only after Stewart's death specifically photos of the drug squad officers clad in jeans, hoodies and, in one case, a Cheech and Chong T-shirt definitely support the late defendant's claim.
Neighbors and other witnesses, meanwhile, had testified that they heard the shots being fired in and around Stewart's home, but not anything that would indicate that the police, as they have insisted under oath, loudly announced themselves or did anything else that would have encouraged Stewart to peacefully surrender rather than fight for his life.
With no defendant to try, formal charges in the case were officially dropped Tuesday. But this must not be the end of the matter.
The lives of one police officer and, indirectly, one other human being were lost due to the decision of the powers that be in Weber County to conduct a military-style attack on a small-time weed grower. If there is not a full and expert investigation into the decisions that led to the raid and the conduct of law enforcement officers during the attack, then two men will have died in vain.