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Judge Frees 12 Residents of Tulia, Texas Who Served Years in Prison Based on the Testimony of a Narcotics Agent Who Has Since Been Indicted

June 17, 2003

More than ten percent of the African-American community was arrested in the 1999 drug sting.

12 people arrested in the controversial drug sting in Tulia Texas in 1999 were set free yesterday.

The hearing took only 22 minutes and included brief statements from four of the 15 defense attorneys present, most of which were an attack on Tom Coleman, the undercover agent on whose word 38 convictions were obtained.

At a hearing related to the case in April, Coleman was charged with lying under oath about his background.

Coleman arrested 43 people in 1999 on charges of selling small amounts of cocaine. The officer had no corroborating evidence in the biggest drug sting in local history.

Forty out of the 43 defendants were black. More than ten percent of the African-American community were arrested.

In some cases, hometown juries later meted out sentences ranging from 20 years to more than 300 years.

Local officials declared the operation a stunning success. 22 of the defendants were sent to prison while others received probation. Coleman, was named by the state as lawman of the year.

Democracy Now! spoke with attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice and Freddie Brookings Jr., one of the men freed yesterday.

  • Margaret Ratner Kunstler, attorney, William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice.
  • Freddie Wesley Brookings Jr., one of the 12 men freed yesterday.


William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice

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