Cops mistake tea leaves for marijuana; raid home

Search warrants have to be approved by a judge, but police know which judges to ask.

Relaxed oversight of the overzealous leads to nightmares.

In 2006, Atlanta police officers lied in a search warrant application. They said cocaine was purchased at a home they had never been to and they were awarded a no-knock warrant.

Police then kicked down the door of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston’s Neal Street home and shot her to death.

Before leaving, the officers planted marijuana in the home so their victim would look like a drug dealer and not a frightened old lady.

A story I read today out of Kansas didn’t end as badly, but it made me think about Kathryn Johnson and bad cops.

In the Kansas case, a highway patrol officer saw a man enter a Kansas City hydroponics store. The highway patrol forwarded the info to Johnson County police seven months later, in March 2012.

Johnson County investigators searched the man’s garbage on three separate occasions in April 2012. Twice, they found wet plant material and mistook it for marijuana.

They got a search warrant and performed a “SWAT-style” raid on the home of Bob and Addie Harte.

Bob asked police for a search warrant and was told police, in Kansas, only have to show a search warrant after a search is complete, not before. In Georgia, police generally are not allowed to enter a home without a search warrant unless the homeowner gives them permission.

The family of four was made to sit on a sofa while armed officers scoured the home.

The search revealed nothing.

The Hartes say the wet plant material was loose tea, and the visit to the hydroponic store was for a basement tomato plant.

The Hartes asked why their home was searched, but under Kansas law police don’t have to tell property owners anything.

Only after the family hired a lawyer did police send the plant material to a lab to see what it really was. The results came back negative for marijuana.

Apparently there’s no crime lab test for Earl Grey.

The Hartes have filed a federal lawsuit and spent $25,000 on lawyers to learn why their home was searched.

Most people don’t have that kind of money.

And most people aren’t retired CIA employees like the Hartes, who have a newfound respect for the rights of suspected criminals.

“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 said.

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21 comments Add your comment

Chris Salzmann

March 27th, 2014
9:35 am

I agree. I hope they win a bundle from the state.


March 27th, 2014
9:41 am


March 27th, 2014
10:04 am

Jack Booted Thugs. I’m sure glad the taxpayers are footing the lawyers fees for these idiots. (sarc)

On My Way

March 27th, 2014
10:16 am

When did people starting worrying about civil rights? Remember, if you got nothing to hide, what’s the problem? Oh that’s right. It’s different when it happens to you. I’ll go with the “law and order” crowd and be sarcastic here…

I’m happy our law enforcement personnel is vigilant in their duties to keep our streets safe and our children from being destroyed by those evil drugs. It’s the price we pay to keep us safe.

The Geezer

March 27th, 2014
10:32 am

At times the only difference between the USA and a police state is the United States Constitution and the judges that respect it. There are an increasing number of control freak police out there that would turn this country into a Nazi type police state where their word is law rather than the laws passed by Congress and the state legislatures.

Thank God for the United States Constitution and the judges that respect it. It is too bad that justice appears to be becoming a right only for the people who can afford it rather than for all of the people, including the poor.

I remember an episode of The Andy Griffith Show years ago when Sheriff Taylor leaves town for the day and Barney is left in charge. When he comes back, Barney has all of the towns’ people locked up in jail and there is nobody left on the street and Barney is so proud of his work. Is this your town now?


March 27th, 2014
10:49 am

Lets say said homeowners actually had some crippy and happened to bake it in with some doughnuts, would said crippy make it back to the evidence room??

Honestly (INDEP)

March 27th, 2014
10:57 am

They are Teabaggers and should be arrested!


March 27th, 2014
11:03 am

They are former CIA, have the cops waterboarded repeatedly.

Honestly (INDEP)

March 27th, 2014
11:08 am

Honestly (INDEP)

March 27th, 2014
10:57 am

They are Teabaggers and should be arrested!
Not self assured enough to use your own handle and have to take someone else’s?


March 27th, 2014
11:13 am

In Communities like the One in which I Live in ALL over America. Our “TERRORISTS” wear blue, carry Badges,guns,extra ammon clips, mace, taser, nightstick, gloves, flashlight, radios, drive recklessly, kick in doors at will, Abuse and Assault without Fear of Penality and let us Not fer git the Bad Attitudes.

We have NO FEAR of the BAD GUYS from the MIDDLE EAST. Our BAD GUYS are ALREADY HERE…. Among US… Feigning US and PRETENDING TO PROTECT US. While trying at every TURN to KICK US. They Then SHOOT US an then SAY they had no Choice Because THEY were AFRAID. YET The DEAD has only CANDY in his hand.



March 27th, 2014
11:14 am

Just going into a hydroponic store doesn’t make you a criminal. I go to several here in the Atl to purchase stuff for growing lettuce and other food. Used to use that equipment in my classroom. Does that give the police probable cause to search my trash? If a cop can’t tell the difference between tea leaves and pot, they are too stupid to be on the street!


March 27th, 2014
11:21 am

“Red states are dangerous states with lawmakers equally dangerous to enact dangerous laws to drive home a point to exhibit conservatism’—mrob


March 27th, 2014
11:26 am

Bernie, are you ever going to stop playing the victim card?


March 27th, 2014
11:44 am

stingembuzz@ 11:26 am – Have You ever been HARRASSED by the PO-LICE?? huh…! yeah I know you do not give a flip!

This is why when I hear of stories of POOKIE and his miscreant friends JACKING YOU & yOUR’n…I too Laugh then. Oh YEAH! Go POOKIE! RUN!

Now that We have an Understanding of each other….Until you have been followed and Watched by ARmed Terrorist…you can’t TELL me SQUAT!


March 27th, 2014
11:55 am

Enter your comments hereI don’t see any difference between these police and the German Gestapo searching for Jews during the Holocaust.The Hartes need me on their jury when the case goes to court.

Don't Tread

March 27th, 2014
12:03 pm

“Twice, they found wet plant material and mistook it for marijuana.”

They assume something is contraband instead of having it tested, then get a judge to authorize their Gestapo tactics based on false information. Then it is only tested after a lawyer is hired.

Everyone involved should be removed from their position for violating their oath of office. I hope they all lose their (brown) shirts in this lawsuit.


March 27th, 2014
12:13 pm

This happened in Coweta County. The people had tomato plants in pots on the back deck. The helicper thought it was pot plants. The house was raided with helicopers, SWAT, the whold nine yards. The deck was the first stop and they did call off the search as soon as they saw it was tomato plants.


March 27th, 2014
12:25 pm

I find irony in this story, CIA worried about privacy after spying on the entire world without cause. Yet, these two are up in arms about the local police not having a proper search warrent or not being truth about it. Sort of the pot calling the kettle black isn’t it?


March 27th, 2014
1:05 pm

Why in the world would police stage a full raid about a couple of marijuana plants? Hopefully, police have more to do with their time than chase a little bit of marijuana. A disgrace.


March 27th, 2014
1:14 pm

This is what progressivism leads to. Read Rules for Radicals. This president is following it to the T.


March 27th, 2014
3:34 pm

America, learn what jury nullification is and for God’s sake, use it.