Two former CIA employees whose suburban Kansas City home was unsuccessfully searched for marijuana claim they were illegally targeted, possibly because they had purchased indoor growing supplies to raise vegetables.
Adlynn and Robert Harte sued Thursday to obtain records and are considering a federal civil rights lawsuit based on what happened at the residence last year.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office searched the Hartes' Leawood home April 20. That's the day marijuana users have long designated to celebrate the drug. It's also a popular day for drug raids.
Attorney Cheryl Pilate says no drugs were found and she wants to know why the home was searched. She suspects it's because the couple was growing tomatoes and squash in their basement.
The couple used hydroponics equipment in their basement.
"We had no idea why they were here," Robert Harte said. "We had nothing in our past that would have given them probable cause to terrorize our family. We had no idea what was going on."
County and city officials declined to comment.
Robert Harte described the panic he felt when Johnson County SWAT officers burst into his home. He said he was shirtless and thrown face down in his front hallway. He said his wife and children were forced to sit in the foyer with their legs crossed and their hands behind their back as an officer armed with an assault weapon stood over Robert Harte.
He said a deputy told him that his family had been under surveillance for months.
Adlynn Harte believes authorities must answer for their actions.
"We've got young kids we're trying to teach about right and wrong," she said. "They had to sit here and watch all of this go on. And we had to try to explain to them why this happened. And we didn't have a good explanation."
Since the news first broke, the couple said they have received an outpouring of support, which gratifies them. They are also concerned because they believe others have faced similar situations.
The Hartes said they were home-schooling their oldest son and were looking for a project that would combine science, math and mechanics. They called it their "little garden that could."
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