In 1999, undercover narcotics agent Thomas Coleman was called in by Tulia's sheriff to conduct a sting operation. Of the 46 people indicted for dealing cocaine, 39 were black. Eight were convicted and sentenced to jail terms of 20 to 99 years. Thirty-eight agreed to plea bargains. After three years, attorneys finally won a hearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. On June 16, 2003, thirteen Tulia defendants were released from prison. Eventually, all the defendants were pardoned by the Governor. Coleman was found guilty of perjury, but was given a suspended sentence by the jury.
Video — 1 videodisc (54 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.
Drug Task Force
Campaigns to free convicted
Coleman's credibility questioned
Convicted released/Town response
Conclusion and legacy.
In 1999, undercover narcotics agent Thomas Coleman executed one of the biggest drug stings in Texas history. Of forty-six people indicted for dealing cocaine, thirty-nine were black. Thirty-eight defendants took plea bargains; eight who fought the charges were all convicted and sent to prison. After three years, attorneys finally won a hearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. On June 16, 2003, thirteen Tulia defendants were released from prison. After the Governor pardoned all the convicted defendants, the settlement of a civil suit, the arrest and conviction of Coleman on a felony charge that bars him from ever working in law enforcement again, Tulia seemed to return to normal. What is 'normal' when this is the price paid by small town Americans for the war on drugs?