The police report would claim it all kicked off at 7:38 a.m., but Bob Harte later thought it had to be earlier.
His 7:20 a.m. alarm had just yanked him awake. Got to get the kids — a boy in seventh grade, a girl in kindergarten — ready for school. Then he heard, like a starter’s pistol setting everything into motion, the first pounding on the front door of his home in Leawood, Kan., a bedroom suburb south of Kansas City. It was thunderous. It didn’t stop. Should I get up? Bob thought. Should I not? Sounded like the house was coming down, he would recall later.
Wearing only gym shorts, the stocky 51-year-old left his wife in bed and shuffled downstairs. The solid front door had a small window carved at eye-level, one-foot-square. As he approached, Bob saw the porch was clogged with police officers. Immediately after opening the door, seven members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) pressed into the house brandishing guns and a battering ram. Bob found himself flat on floor, hands behind his head, his eyes locked on the boots of the officer standing over him with an AR-15 assault rifle. “Are there kids?” the officers were yelling. “Where are the kids?”
“And I’m laying there staring at this guy’s boots fearing for my kids’ lives, trying to tell them where my children are,” Harte recalled later in a deposition on July 9, 2015. “They are sending these guys with their guns drawn running upstairs to bust into my children’s house, bedroom, wake them out of bed.”
Harte’s wife, Addie, bolted downstairs with the children. Their son put his hands up when he saw the guns. The family of four were eventually placed on a couch as police continued to search the property. The officers would only say they were searching for narcotics.
Addie had a thought: It’s because of the hydroponic garden, she told her husband, they are looking for pot. No way, Harte said, correctly reasoning marijuana wasn’t a narcotic. And all this for pot?
But after two hours of fruitless search, the officers showed the Hartes a warrant. Indeed, the hunt was for marijuana. Addie and Bob were flabbergasted — all this for pot?
“You take the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all the rights you expect to have — when they come in like that, the only right you have is not to get shot if you cooperate,” Harte told The Washington Post this week. “They open that door, your life is on the line.”