Police state

This family had to spend $25K to find out why they went through police-state hell

TRUE DOUG PIC

, Rare Staff

For one Kansas family, the words “police state” are an unwelcome coupling.

In April 2012, the Harte family were awoken by an early morning knock on their door. And, instead of a friendly face, they were greeted by a SWAT team, guns drawn, ready to search the family’s home.

Despite the cries from Mr. and Mrs. Harte and their children, police carried out a raid and refused to show the family their search warrant until they left. Unlike many states, this is perfectly legal in Kansas. After the police spent two hours searching the Harte’s home, the family discovered the SWAT team had been searching for drugs. After almost two years — and $25,000 in legal fees — the Harte family now knows why they were unnecessarily targeted.

According to legal documents, only attainable in a costly court proceeding, Bob Harte was seen exiting a hydroponics shop with his children in the summer of 2011. Harte claims that he had been working on a science project with his son and went to the store to buy supplies to build a hydroponic garden. But, because similar tools can be used to grow marijuana, Harte was targeted.

Local authorities seven months later went to the Harte home in the middle of the night to rummage through his trash. There they found some discarded loose-leaf tea and quickly did a field test which came back positive for marijuana. Yes, the authorities couldn’t differentiate tea from marijuana and yes, these field tests have a high margin for error.

Even though a lab test would prove the tea had no illegal content in it, police had enough evidence at the time for a warrant to raid the home. While the Harte’s were never charged with a crime, Mr. Harte had to go through the embarrassing ordeal of going door-to-door in his neighborhood in his neighborhood, reassuring his neighbors he wasn’t a criminal.

“This not what justice in the United States is supposed to be. 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,” Addie Harte told local KSHB.COM

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