In 2018, police in Hopewell, Virginia, pressured Troy Howlett into becoming a drug informant, sitting by his hospital bed as he recovered from an overdose. Months later he died from a fentanyl overdose. His mother, Donna Watson, filed a wrongful death claim against the police, arguing that with full knowledge of Troy’s addiction they coerced him into buying drugs that exposed him to continued drug use and a high risk of overdose. Her case was initially dismissed by the court; it is currently on appeal. For indepth coverage see this story from WTVR, “Her son was a police informant. She blames them for his death,” and this piece from The New Republic: “Her Son Needed Help. First, He Had to Help the Police.”
The New Republic also interviewed another former Hopewell informant. The father of her child was facing criminal charges and police came to her with a deal: if she worked for them, it could help reduce his sentence. Pregnant and with a history of substance abuse of her own, she worked for police for a month and relapsed.
For more stories about the widespread harms to vulnerable informants, see post about Matthew Klaus who died of an overdose while working for police, and also How police turn teens into informants.