|Photo: Voice It Out|
|Seattle Police officers knocked a legal patient’s door down, charged in brandishing machine guns, and forced him face down to the floor. He had two legal plants.|
Seattle Police officers brandishing submachine guns broke down the door of a 50-year-old medical marijuana patient Monday night and pushed him face down to the floor. His offense? He was legally growing two tiny cannabis plants.
Will Laudanski, a military veteran who was an Airborne Ranger in Desert Shield, wasn’t even breaking the law. As an authorized medical marijuana patient in the state of Washington, he’s allowed to grow up to 15 plants and possess 24 ounces of cannabis.
But Seattle Police have shown they are willing to treat the smallest of pot cases — even in cases where the marijuana is legal — as if they were raiding the biggest crack house or meth lab in town.
Just before 9 p.m. Monday officers at SPD’s East Precinct held a briefing about a complaint of marijuana at a four-unit apartment building in the Leschi neighborhood, reports Dominic Holden at The Stranger.
A week earlier, officers had applied for a search warrant from King County Superior Court, sent an officer with a drug dog to sniff at the door, “confirmed the scent of marijuana,” and started planning their big SWAT style drug raid.
|Graphic: NORML/Missoula Independent|
A gung-ho SWAT team of officers decked out in all their Rambo-esque raid equipment — between six and nine officers — ran up the stairs, some carrying MP5 submachine guns, and one guy with a battering ram. They pounded on Laudanski’s door and said it was the police.
“I was tying my robe,” said Laudanski, who had just stepped out of the bathroom. “I said ‘I am opening the door,’ but before I could get my hand to the door, they busted it open and then rushed me.”
Laudanski told The Stranger his door now “has cracks running right down the middle. I can’t really bolt it.”
“During the entry to this apartment, the locking mechanism to the front door was possibly damaged,” the official incident report drily notes.
“I was trying to comply,” Laudanski said. “Then they pushed me down to the ground and just basically got me positioned in a corner of the kitchen with my face on the floor.”
As officers began to tear up the place while he was face down on the floor, Laudanski told them he was an authorized medical marijuana patient and directed them to his paperwork in the other room. “Do you want to see it?” he asked the officers.
Laudanski “had paperwork in the room declaring his marijuana grow was for medical purposes,” the police report acknowledged.
As officers ransacked the apartment, they discovered two small marijuana plants in the bedroom, each growing in pots.
“They were able to see the full extent of my pathetic grow,” Laudanski said. “There were four little nuggets of bud the size of your pinkie on one and five on the other. They’re about 12 inches high.”
Police didn’t take the plants.
“Clearly, in this case, there was no law violation that was discovered,” admitted Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb.
But Whitcomb adds, “Our mission is to enforce the law. We do that by gathering information of any evidence of any criminal violation. And I’d go on to say that had the officers known that, they would have spent their time doing something else. However, unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury.”
But officers do have the luxury of speaking the English language, don’t they? Couldn’t they have, like, knocked on the goddamned door and asked about the marijuana, especially given the fact that Washington is a medical marijuana state?
Well, it turns out that “knock-and-talks” aren’t the protocol for “drug cases” — even small pot cases, Whitcomb said.
Well, heaven forbid you should go against your fucked-up protocol just because medical marijuana is legal, officer! By all means, feel free to break down doors, rough up sick people, and trash their homes! No need to make sure they’re breaking the law first; that would violate protocol!
Laudanski said he hasn’t done anything to attract the cops’ attention. And he doesn’t know why so much force was necessary.
“I came from a perspective that was pro-police,” said Laudanski, who worked in New York as a paramedic. “But I still think this was very, very wrong what they did. I feel that higher-up people who ordered this, they are wasting our time and our money and they are putting innocent people in danger.”
Every day in the United States, we have 100 to 150 paramilitary style SWAT raids on American homes, mostly in the name of the War On Drugs, according to NORML. Shouldn’t we at least get the sick and dying off the battlefield?