Heavily Militarized SWAT Raids Innocent Family for Growing Tomatoes—Taxpayers Held Liable

Sunday, May 10, 2020
By Paul Martin

Matt Agorist
May 10, 2020

Leawood, KS — Adlynn and Robert Harte and their two children had harmed no one and broken no laws when heavily armed militarized SWAT deputies with the Johnson County sheriff’s department stormed their home like it was an ISIS compound. The “hero” deputies were searching for evidence of marijuana production and use but they found none because the Harte’s don’t use or produce marijuana. They do grow vegetables, however, and they also drink tea.

The Hartes and their two children were held at gunpoint and nearly killed for purchasing supplies for their vegetable garden and drinking tea. After they were seen buying gardening supplies, cops rummaged through their trash and mistook tea leaves for weed, sparking ‘probable cause’ for the raid. Since the raid in 2012, the Harte family has been attempting to seek justice but to no avail. This month, however, they finally got a break.

According to Reason, the couple whose home was raided in 2012 after sheriff’s deputies claimed that loose tea found in their trash was marijuana will receive $150,000 for their trouble under a settlement agreement with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. The settlement—which caps seven years of litigation, including two trips to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit—falls far short of the $7 million that Adlynn and Robert Harte originally sought. But it represents an implicit acknowledgment that the Hartes and their children suffered an outrageous invasion of their privacy and dignity in the service of a comically inept publicity stunt.

In the realm of unlawful police raids, this one near the top. It began with a Missouri State Highway Patrolman staking out a garden store every day in Kansas City in hopes of catching some pot growers. Robert Harte visited the store with his two children to buy supplies for an educational vegetable garden project in his basement.

The sergeant shared Harte’s information with a counterpart in the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), which was planning to raid several suspected cannabis growers on 4/20…such originality. JCSO went through the Harte’s trash on three occasions, eventually finding what officers believed was cannabis clippings soaked in THC extract. Because everyone throws away their weed, right?

But the “marijuana” was actually discarded tea leaves.

Despite a lab technician saying the tea leaves looked nothing like cannabis leaves or stems, deputies Edward Blake and Mark Burns used notoriously faulty field drug test kits which showed the presence of THC. These supposed field drug tests were the basis for planning the raid, but the deputies never photographed or documented the tests — leading Judge Carlos Lucero to note that these circumstances gave the deputies strong motive to lie.

“The deputies did not photograph any of the substances, nor did they send them to a crime lab for testing,” Judge Joel Carson notes in this month’s 10th Circuit decision. “If the deputies would have sent the wet vegetation to a crime lab for testing, they would have discovered that the wet vegetation was not marijuana but instead was Addie’s loose-leaf tea. Rather than conducting further investigation, the deputies prepared a search warrant affidavit relying solely on the loose-leaf tea found in the garbage and Bob’s shopping trip to a garden store eight months earlier.”

They had to find something on the Hartes, because the JCSO had already scheduled the raid on the Harte’s home. Several routine investigatory steps were ignored, making their search warrant “based on nothing more than gardening supplies and a bag and wet tea leaves in the garbage.”

The list of sheer incompetence goes on. In his written decision in 2017, Lucero used extraordinary language to characterize just how reckless these drug warriors were.

The Rest…HERE

One Response to “Heavily Militarized SWAT Raids Innocent Family for Growing Tomatoes—Taxpayers Held Liable”

  1. WilliamtheResolute

    At least the deputies weren’t stupid enough to break down the door at 3:00 a.m.
    and get somebody killed…morons.


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