Katie Granju has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the two people she believes gave her son a lethal dose of methadone and the clinic that supplied the methadone. You can see the filing here.
And if you feel like diving into a cesspool, you can read the comments on the KNS story here.
There are people commenting who know nothing about the case, and have obviously failed to read either the filing or the article they are commenting on. Or it could be that they did read it, but were blinded by prejudice, ignorance, and/or hate. What really angers me is how many of these people who claim that Henry got what he deserved also claim to be good Christians who love the Lord.
Apparently they forget that Jesus didn't hang out with folks like them; He pretty much told them that they were headed to Hell with the Pharisees and other hypocrites. Jesus hung out with folks like Henry; sinners who had lost their way and were looking for redemption, the outcasts of polite society. If anyone bothers to read Henry's story, you can't help but see that he was looking for redemption, a way out of the trap that is addiction. Tragically, that search was cut short by two people who took advantage of him, abused him, fed his addiction, and then sat by and callously watched him suffer, struggling to breathe, waiting until they were threatened with police before finally calling for medical help.
It truly is a horrible story, yet there are many who believe that Henry got no less than what he deserved because he was a drug addict, and that his mother is filing a lawsuit to deflect guilt, his and hers, and to try and take financial advantage of Henry's tragedy.
Needless to say, I am not one of those people, and here's my response to them.
First, Henry was not a criminal. He was never arrested for dealing, much less tried and convicted. Remember the whole, "innocent until proven guilty" thing? You might want to look that up; it's kind of the basis for our entire legal system. It says you can't treat somebody like a criminal until you prove they are one in a court of law. No court ever found Henry guilty of dealing drugs; no policemen ever arrested him for it.
That being said, his mother has repeatedly and clearly admitted that Henry was using drugs, and probably selling them to support his habit. She's gone so far to write that she had hoped that Henry would get busted so that he might get the help he needed but that never happened. So much for shifting blame.
It seems many believe that he deserved to die for using and/or selling drugs, that because he made some bad choices that somehow justice was done when he was left to choke on his own vomit for 6 hours before the two "Good Samaritans" called for help. (Yeah, the lead investigator told Katie that Yolanda and Randall were just two good people trying to help a kid in trouble. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.)
All of you self righteous parents, who believe that Henry's death may have been tragic, but ultimately his own responsibility, what would your reaction be if somebody let your child die like that, refusing to call for help? Would you tell yourself that your child was using drugs, deserved to die, and then go on with your golf game? Reading some of the comments on the story, some of you just might, which tells me you shouldn't be allowed to have a dog, much less a child. I'll tell you one thing. I'm a Navy vet, like my father and grandfather, and my oldest son is in the Army and just got back from his second tour in Iraq, and the comments I've read on this story make me question whether our sacrifices were worth it. The day after Memorial Day, I wonder if all the men and women who have did in service to this nation died in vain. The hatred shown and the willingness to cast somebody off because they have a problem, or because they fail to live up to some arbitrary standards makes me sick. The worst part is that this attitude is apparently shared by the people in our government who are supposed to rise above this kind of crap and enforce the rule of law impartially, and not as some kind of perverted popularity contest.
"Did you hear? A kid was beaten severely, robbed, and then was taken by two people who gave him a lethal overdose of drugs and watched him choke for 6 hours before calling for medical help. He died a few days later."
"My God! That's awful! How did this happen? Did they arrest anybody?"
"No, apparently, the kid had a drug problem and..."
"He was a junkie! Hell, he deserved what he got! Probably saved the tax payers a bundle by just letting the whole thing go away..."
Really? Is that the way we want our law enforcement to work? One standard for people we approve of and another for those who don't quite make the grade?
The Tennessee law code, TCA 39-13-210, states clearly that anybody who gives a drug illegally to another person is guilty of second degree murder if that person dies as a result of that drug. The medical examiner's report explicitly links Henry's death to the drug overdose. In fact, the KCSO is on record as declining to prosecute the assault on Henry because he died of the overdose. They have not stated a reason for declining to prosecute the murder by overdose. Henry's mother has been forced to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court because for whatever reason, the Knox County Sheriff and the DA's office have declined to enforce, investigate, or prosecute violators of the law.
In short, they don't want to do their job, either because there may be some political ramifications, or because Henry was an addict, an "unattractive victim," as one assistant DA told Katie.
For me, I can't decide which explanation is more repugnant, and the truth is that regardless of which one they claim, they don't get to make that choice. Their oath is to uphold the law, without prejudice, and for whatever reason, political or pragmatic, they have collectively failed to do so.
The hate and intolerance, as displayed in the comments to this story, is giving them the political cover to do so. So let me ask you people something. What happens when you become an 'unattractive victim?' What happens when the powers that be decide that your rights are not worth defending because you don't meet their standards? What will you do then?
In fighting for Henry, Katie is not denying that he was a drug addict. She's not saying that he had no responsibility for his actions; in fact, she held him accountable in every way she could, even after he turned 18 and became a legal adult. They tried in patient and out patient treatment. They tried soft love, tough love, making rules, setting restrictions. In the end, she had to make the ultimate sacrifice of removing him from her home to protect her other children. Not because Henry was a danger, but because his siblings were suffering from his addiction, paying a price in fear and worry that they never should have to pay. I grew up with an alcoholic father, and I know the pain that inflicts on the family so I understand the painful choice Katie had to make.
In fighting for Henry, she's not trying to escape the burden of responsibility for making those choices; as a parent, she feels responsibility for everything that happens to all of her children and she will carry that weight for the rest of her life. Because of Henry's addiction, she had to make a brutally hard decision, and she will carry the consequences of that decision, right or wrong, to her grave with her.
She's suing because no matter how hard she's tried, nobody in the Knox County government gives a damn about Henry and what happened to him, and not only is that unfair to Henry, it means that it will happen again to another young person.
And it will keep happening again and again until somebody finally stands up and screams STOP! ENOUGH! You can't kill any more of our children!
And having stood up and said something, then that person must follow up and actually do something.
Our newspapers won't do it.
Our police won't do it.
Our DA won't do it.
Our medical examiner says she doesn't have the time or resources to do it.
So Katie and her family are doing it. Not to take the responsibility away from Henry, but to make sure that this doesn't happen again to any other family. Because Henry is not the only victim here.
For all to many people, Henry was just a junkie. But Henry was a son, a big brother, a nephew, a cousin, a friend, and a good kid. He was a talented musician with a desire to travel and see the world. He was a free spirit with a big heart and a bigger imagination. He was so much more than 'just a junkie,' and Katie wants us to see Henry, and not just Henry but all drug addicts, as who they are, not what they are; as brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives.
Because until we see them as people, we're comfortable as passing them off as 'just a junkie,' another 'unattractive victim' whose death is something to disregard rather than to mourn.
That's what this lawsuit is about. And that's why I stand behind Katie.