CSPD SWAT Team Raids MMJ Patients' Home
Updated On: Feb 28 2012 12:53:56 PM CST
The Colorado Springs Police SWAT team raids the home where two medical marijuana patients live, but no arrests are made or charges filed. The raid was caught on security cameras, and the patients tell TARGET 13 they believe excessive force was used.
The video shows at least 13 SWAT officers coming to the door of the home. After the first officer reaches the door, about 15 seconds pass before another officer rams it open and a flash bang is thrown inside.
"They acted like they were coming for a big terrorist," said Chuck Ball, one of the patients. "They came in here, drug me across the kitchen floor and handcuffed me," said. "They kept telling me to shut up."
Ball and his roommate grow their own medical marijuana in their home and said they've never had more plants than Colorado law allows.
Ball, who said he uses marijuana for severe back problems, said he never heard a knock when the SWAT team arrived. He said his shirt was ripped, there was some damage to the home as police searched, and his dogs were hurt by the flash bang. He showed TARGET 13 pictures of the animals' cuts and singed fur.
Ball said the raid was prompted by tips to investigators from his roommate's estranged ex who told police that there was an illegal number of medical marijuana plants in the house. Police first came to his door on Christmas night. Police agree, he and his roommate showed their medical marijuana cards, but refused to let officers in the house without a search warrant.
"If you have nothing to hide, most people would open the door and say, 'Yes, please come in and and let's dispel any information you have because it's false'," said Colorado Springs Police spokesperson Barbara Miller.
Miller said police respect that citizens have a Constitutional right to refuse officers, and that, in this case, that right was employed. She said officers smelled a very strong presence of marijuana in the home, and continued their investigation. Miller said police found out that someone living in the house had a prior felony weapons charge, and also noted that the electric bill was very high for the property.
"That's really important when you're talking narcotics because that's a tell-tale sign that they're doing a grow there," said Miller.
Miller said that SWAT officers did knock on the door and gave enough time for someone to answer before going in.
"If you look at the video, it does look like maybe it's a large police presence," said Miller. "But if you put yourself in a police officer's shoes, they've been to many of these where you never know how it's going to play out, if weapons are involved, if someone's going to use it."
The case has caught the attention of medical marijuana advocates in Colorado Springs.
"With there being problems with resources in the city, this was a huge waste of taxpayer dollars," said Audrey Hatfield with Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patient Rights. "When you're following the law, this type of thing shouldn't be happening."
Ball said he doesn't regret not letting police in the first time they came.
"Would you let police into your house at 10:30 on Christmas night when people are sleeping?" he asked. "I won't, and if they come here again wanting to come in, I'm going to tell them no. Privacy in your own home means privacy in your own home."
TARGET 13 did a national criminal background check on the three people who live in the home, and didn't find any weapons charges. Police, however, do have access to information that the public does not.
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