I'm not sure how Trevon Cole earned the nickname "Big."
Police described him as a large man. Perhaps that's it. Because from the amount of marijuana he is alleged to have sold to a Metro undercover detective, it's hard to believe the nickname reflects some vaunted status in the drug trade.
Cole, 21, was shot and killed June 11 during the service of a search warrant by Metro officers. Cole was unarmed and in the bathroom of an apartment at 2850 E. Bonanza Road he shared with his fiancee, Sequioa Pearce. She told the Review-Journal that Cole had his hands up when he was shot.
Metro officials say Cole made a "furtive movement" before Metro veteran Bryan Yant pulled the trigger of an AR-15 rifle and hit the suspect in the face. A Clark County coroner's inquest has been scheduled for Aug. 20.
Although Yant has been involved in two other shootings, I wouldn't dream of trying to sift through the scant evidence made public in this case to determine whether his action was justified. Nor would I lay $1 against $1,000 that the inquest won't result in a ruling in the cop's favor. That's the lock of the year.
I can tell you Yant's search warrant affidavit in the case made me scratch my head and wonder what the rush was to break down the door of the couple's apartment like Starsky & Hutch on steroids. Nothing in it makes "Big" Cole look like a big man. In fact, just the opposite.
For whatever Cole might have been, he wasn't sitting on a mountain of marijuana. From April 28 to the night of his death, he was, authorities allege, involved in three marijuana deals with an undercover cop. The first one was for $60. The second, on May 19, was for $380. The third, on June 3, was for $400.
Any way you cut it, that's $840 worth of marijuana. While I'll concede that it's illegal to deal pot and that small-time deals sometimes lead to bigger ones, this isn't exactly the French Connection.
"Big" was so not big. He had to talk to his connection about getting more marijuana to cover the $400 order. I know this because Yant stated as much in his search warrant affidavit.
Then there's the description of the undercover deals. Cole wasn't flanked by armed guards. He was dealing in the street near his apartment. He approached the undercover detective's vehicle on foot -- just like you might expect from a small-time dealer in a traditionally drug-infested neighborhood.
Unless there's irrefutable evidence, an attempt to put some cartel jacket on Cole in the aftermath of his death could backfire. If he was a big-time marijuana dealer, he seemed to cleverly disguise himself as a small-time one in a neighborhood where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone with dope in his pocket.
Of course, there's always the possibility he was a violent criminal. "Your affiant also knows that persons involved in drug sales will possess firearms to protect both the narcotics as well as the proceeds from the activity," Yant wrote.
Alas, there was no gun.
In a world full of armed, drug-dealing desperados, the return filed following the search doesn't list a single weapon recovered. Not a fancy foreign machine pistol favored by some thugs. Not a brace of chrome-plated automatics sported by others. Not a peashooter or slingshot.
Maybe one day we'll learn Cole was more than a bit player on the street, but you wouldn't know it from the search warrant.
Or its results. Just eight items are listed: some marijuana, a digital scale, miscellaneous paperwork, $702, a cell phone, California and Nevada identification cards, a ChapStick.
And one more thing:
A .223 casing from an AR-15 rifle.
John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.