Kansas Police raid couple with SWAT team over growing tomatoes
Couple suing Kansas police after pot raid finds only tomatoes
Published time: April 01, 2013 23:48
Two former CIA employees are suing Kansas police, claiming a raid on their home was unfounded. They say a SWAT team descended on their home in April 2012 without a warrant in search of contraband, only to find vegetables growing in their basement.
Adlynn and Robert Harte claimed that even after repeated attempts for clarification, police have refused to divulge any reasoning for the raid, the AP reports. They believe the decision came from government officials who knew the Hartes had purchased equipment from a store selling hydroponics – which can be used to grow marijuana, among other plants.
Law enforcement agencies across the US have made April 20, the day of the 2012 raid, a favorite day for crackdowns because marijuana users have long used the date for a celebration of the drug. The sweep on the Hartes’ home came as Kansas and Missouri police were searching other suspected growing operations.
“With little or no other evidence of illegal activity, law enforcement officers make the assumption that shoppers at the store are potential marijuana growers, even though the stores are most commonly frequented by backyard gardeners who grow organically or start seedlings indoors,” reads the couple’s lawsuit.
They also sought details on whether the sheriff’s department in the upscale Kansas suburb of Leawood was acting “based on a well-founded belief of marijuana use and cultivation at the targeted addresses, or whether the raids primarily served a publicity purpose.”
Robert and Adlyn said their two children, aged 7 and 13, were “shocked and frightened” when a SWAT team wielding assault weapons pounded on their door just after 7:00 in the morning.
“If this can happen to us and we are educated and have reasonable resources, how does [sic] somebody who maybe hasn’t led a perfect life supposed to be free in this country?” Adlynn asked in an interview with the AP.
Robert Harte said that the family had three tomato plants, one melon and two butternut squash growing in the basement after using high powered lights to build the hydroponic garden years ago.
“It was just like on the COPS TV shows,” he added. “It was like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ ready to storm the compound.”