OGDEN — About 30 people marched through the downtown area in support of accused cop-killer Matthew David Stewart, who’s charged in connection with the killing of a police officer and wounding five others.
“No justice! No peace! No violent police!” the group chanted as they made their way down Washington Boulevard to the Weber County Attorney’s Office.
The group decried what they claim are “violent tactics” by police in the war on drugs.
“Dee Smith, you can’t hide! Stop condoning police crimes!” they chanted, waving signs at passing traffic. Stewart’s sister-in-law, Erna Stewart served her own version of a “search warrant,” a public records request for documents on other drug raids by the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force.
Stewart is accused of killing Agent Jared Francom and wounding five other officers as they served a drug-related search warrant at his home earlier this year. Stewart’s family has claimed he believed he was being robbed, not that police were in his home.
“The only thing that we really want to do is to get people to understand that there are two sides to every story and regardless of what the public has been told, my (brother-in-law) is a kind person and would not have meant for this to happen,” Erna Stewart told FOX 13.
Stewart and his supporters have gotten vocal about the case in recent weeks, criticizing police tactics and the overall “war on drugs.” Some demonstrators carried signs supporting the legalization of marijuana, what Stewart is accused of growing — and what brought officers to his home in the first place.
“There’s got to be some change in the tactics that they are allowed to use and are proud to use,” demonstrator Preston Blake said.
Some demonstrators wore T-shirts emblazoned with “POW/MIA” (Stewart served in the Army), but a representative of the POW/MIA group insisted they did not support the rally.
Ogden police kept a close watch on the demonstrators. Kevin Burrell, the father of wounded officer Kasey Burrell, confronted the protesters and defended the police.
“The bottom line is, the police did their job! That’s all there is to it and they suffered for it,” he told the crowd. “They’re having these rallies for a cold-blooded killer as far as I’m concerned.”
Stewart remains in the Weber County Jail. He faces a preliminary hearing in July, where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to make him stand trial on charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder. He faces the death penalty, if convicted.
A recent check of court records showed that some of the wounded officers have been subpoenaed to testify.