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Leawood Family That Was The Target Of A Botched SWAT Raid Settles Lawsuit For $150,000

032018_hydroponics_eirik newth.jpg
Eirik Newth
Creative Commons
Hydrophonics is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution.

Instead of marijuana, sheriff's deputies found a hydroponic tomato-growing operation in the basement.

A Leawood family that was the target of a botched SWAT raid eight years ago when sheriff’s deputies barged through their front door looking for a marijuana growing operation has settled its lawsuit for $150,000.

The settlement was unveiled Thursday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. It was reached a couple of weeks agobut had been sealed so it could be redacted to protect the identity of the family’s minor child.

The settlement ends years of litigation during which Robert and Adlyn Harte and their two children sought to hold the Johnson County Sheriff’s office and the deputies accountable for the bungled raid.

In December 2017, a federal jury found against the Hartes and in favor of the defendants, but the case was scheduled to go to trial again this year on counts that had been thrown out but reinstated on appeal. The settlement brings the litigation to a close.

The Hartes, retired employees of the CIA, originally sought millions of dollars in damages for trespass, false arrest, assault and outrageous conduct that caused severe emotional distress.

The raid occurred eight months after Robert Harte and his son went shopping at a hydroponic gardening store to buy supplies for a school project. A highway patrol officer who was surveilling the store tipped off the Johnson County Sheriff’s office, which later fished through the Hartes’ trash and discovered what they said had tested positive for marijuana.

That led to the fruitless raid, during which the Hartes and their then-young children were detained under armed guard while the deputies searched their home for more than two hours. They turned up nothing except a tomato-growing project in the basement.

The marijuana that they thought they had previously found in the trash turned out to be loose-leaf Teavana tea.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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