Leawood couple suing for $7 million after fruitless drug raid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Bob and Addie Harte of Leawood want $7 million plus attorney's fees for what they call an unconstitutional raid on their home in 2012.

They are suing the Johnson County Sheriff, several deputies and the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, claiming they have suffered "severe and ongoing humiliation, shame, embarrassment, and emotional distress."

County officials declined to comment.

In April 2012, the Hartes called it a swat-style raid when officers woke them up by banging on the door. They spent hours searching for marijuana while forcing Bob at one point to lie on the ground and refusing to show the couple a search warrant for hours.

Officers found nothing but a few tomatoes growing in the basement.

The Hartes had to sue to get the records of investigation that led officers to their home. Documents show a Missouri Highway Patrolman had seen Bob and his son leaving an indoor gardening store.

That tip led to officers digging through the Harte's trash and testing wet leaves that field-tested positive for marijuana, just in time for the highly-publicized "Constant Gardner" raid.

That's what led them to raid the Hartes. But that field test? Failed. Lab results showed it was a false positive. Those wet leaves? Really just Addie's tea.

Now the Harte's children are also a part of the suit after they say officers suggested their 13 year old son might have been using marijuana.

The Hartes released the following statement Tuesday:

"Today we are filing a lawsuit to challenge the law enforcement practices that allowed us to be subjected to a swat-style raid last year. We hope that our suit leads to an examination of reckless and unjustified law enforcement practices and helps to bring about much-needed reform.

This legal action resulted from the April 20, 2012 raid on our home, which changed our lives profoundly. As we've since discovered, our entirely innocent activities – shopping at a garden store, drinking tea – caused us to be targeted as criminals. As a result, our family was awakened by a swat-style raid by law enforcement officers who had used flimsy information to obtain a warrant that allowed them to storm and search every corner of our home while holding us under armed guard for 2 ½ hours.

While we greatly respect and support law enforcement, we strongly believe that such aggressive, intrusive and expensive techniques must be reserved for situations where their use is clearly merited.

Although a raid by heavily armed tactical officers might be appropriate when pursuing people who are a threat to police or the public, the use of a tactical team to investigate non-violent suspects is a gross misallocation of resources and threatens our collective way of life, as evidenced by our experience."

Attorneys for the defendants did not return our calls.

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