A Kansas family was subject to a SWAT team raid all because of a father-son indoor gardening project.
On the morning of April 20, 2012, Bob Harte woke up to pounding at his door. He answered the door to find a fully-armed team of SWAT officers. The officers pushed Harte on to the floor of his home and began raiding it. They refused to tell Harte why they were searching his home until they completed the raid over two hours later. Only then did they inform him they were searching for narcotics. They found none.
“On television, they always come to the door and say ‘we have a search warrant’ and hold it up. Here it is. Let us in,” Harte said. “We were told in Kansas, they don't have to give you the search warrant until they leave.”
Following the raid, the Hartes thought they could freely access public records to learn why they were targeted by police. But gaining access to records is not as simple in Kansas as it is in most places. The Hartes had to hire an attorney and spend over $25,000 to find out why their home was targeted. The answer they found is just as ridiculous as the hoops they had to jump through to get it.
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Police suspected Harte of growing marijuana after seeing him leave a hydroponics store with his son. The two were buying supplies to start an indoor garden. The Hartes also learned that police searched through their trash cans multiple times searching for marijuana plant remnants. When they found a number of leaves in the trash, they conducted a field test and concluded the leaf was from a marijuana plant. It has since been confirmed that the leaves were actually from a tea drink of Addie Harte.
The Hartes are frustrated with the state of Kansas for a number of reasons. They believe the state’s sealed public records law allows law enforcement officials to carry out bogus searches with little fear of the media exposing their actions.
“Nobody wants to be on the nightly news or front page of the paper explaining a scandal, and they don't worry about that in this state because they know the media isn't going to get ahold of it,” Bob Harte said.
They also are upset with the amount of money they had to spend just to discover why their home was raided.
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“This not what justice in the United States is supposed to be,” Addie Harte said. "You shouldn't have to have $25,000, even $5,000. You shouldn't have to have that kind of money to find out why people came raiding your house like some sort of police state."