A 50 year-old military veteran was shoved to the floor in a swat raid over two, small, legal cannabis plants on Monday night. Will Laudanski is a medical marijuana patient, so in his state he is allowed to grow 15 plants and possess 24 ounces of marijuana. But a complaint about marijuana in the four-plex apartment building he lives in led to the 9pm raid Monday night. Seattle police from the East Precinct held a briefing about the marijuana complaint, before the SWAT team of six to nine officers ran upstairs to Mr. Laudanski’s apartment, come carrying sub-machine guns other carrying pistols and one carrying a battering ram. Mr. Laudanski hurried to the door in his bathrobe when he heard the pounding from the other side and the men shouting they were the police. Just before he could reach the door handle to open the door, the men burtst through and rushed the 50 year old man throwing him to the ground.
As some officers held the man down with his face to the floor, the others began tearing through his apartment. He told them he was a medical marijuana patient and asked the officers if he could show them his paperwork. The police paperwork reveal that the man did indeed have paperwork declaring his marijuana grow was for medical purposes, and the officers observed two small marijuana plants each growing in pots.
The Seattle Police Department and the mayor’s office have continually insisted that marijuana possession in the city is the lowest law enforcement priority, and they recognize that Washington State law allows for authorized patients to use and grow cannabis. Advocates are troubled at the para-military raids being conducted for such a small offense. For all his trouble, Laudanski, a veteran Airborne Ranger who served in Desert Shield and is disabled from a car accident in 2005, now has a door with cracks running down the middle and a bolt that no longer can keep him safe. He had only moved into the apartment one month earlier, and police had taken unpacked boxes, emptied them on the floor and tore his apartment up looking for something that was not there.
Sean Whitcomb, a spokesman for the Seattle Police said that, “ Clearly, in this case, there was no law violation that was discovered”. He went on to say that had his officers had known that the man was a legal patient with such a small amount of marijuana, they would have spent their time doing something else. Many are asking why the police didn’t simply knock on the door and talk to him, but Whitcomp explained that knock and talks aren’t the protocol for drug cases. In this case the police say a neighbor complained, they sent out a drug sniffing dog who marked the apartment, and a week later conducted the raid with a warrant. Laudanski, the military veteran is puzzled why the police used so much force against him and says he had done nothing to draw the attention of law enforcement. Neither the police nor the King County Superior Court that issued the warrant could provide a copy of the affidavit by police used to get the warrant—which would provide the basis of probable cause.