There is a hopefulness that fills the cool air as birds chirp and the sun shines. It’s the last official day of winter and the future is looking sunny. There are customers getting spray tans at the salon, their day’s-worth of cigarettes or caffeinated soda at the party store, and picking up their rations of medicine to get them through.
Suddenly, the hopefulness is slaughtered in the blink of an eye.
While customers are waiting for medicine to be filled, armed SWAT agents suddenly barrage through the front doors, guns drawn and wearing riot gear. As screams ring out, the police swarm the waiting area and several bust through the doors leading to the back. Customers and ailing medical patients are ordered to put their hands up. Guns are aimed on each of their heads.
The customers and patients are ushered to seats in the hallway at gunpoint. One-by-one they are interrogated by police looking for information about their medical status, what medicine they were taking, and where they obtained it. Once the badgering is over, they’re finally allowed to leave. The employees, however, had to stay a bit longer.
A manager and three employees, one of which was on her second day of work, were ordered to be silent and guarded by gunmen. The newest employee felt a panic attack coming on: shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and an inability to concentrate. Jade, the manager, tried consoling the employee to calm her down as the captors yelled out a reminder for no one to talk. The anxiety progressively got worse and the girl started vomiting in the hallway. Finally, she was grilled by the police and released.
Jade had to stay the longest to provide continued access to files and cameras and safes. The police asked her the most questions, buddying up to her as the day went on. For dinner, they bought her pizza hoping to soften her up enough to get information out of her. The one question they kept coming back to: where do your products come from?
An hour earlier and about 20 minutes down the road, the business owner (Amanda) and her grown son (Jake) were driving in for an exciting day at work. Amanda’s partner, Eric, would be joining them after his doctor’s appointment. She was to have a meeting with a marketing firm that day to discuss pictures and videos of her business. She felt safe with her son’s ‘old-lady-like’ driving, so she decided to make a few phone calls while relaxing in the passenger seat.
About halfway to work, Jake sees lights flashing behind him. He pulls the car to the side of the road so the police car can pass, but instead is surprised to see it follow him on to the shoulder. As he came to a stop, Jake noticed the police car was not alone. The trooper’s blue patrol car was accompanied by a few unmarked vehicles and a of couple county cars: 6 cars in total.
The trooper came to the driver’s door demanding that Jake exit the vehicle. His question, “What’s the problem, Sir? Am I being arrested?” was met with the reply, “Get out or I will draw my weapon!” On the other side of the car, a similar conversation was going on between Amanda and officer #2. When Amanda asked if they were being arrested and why, she was told that she would find out when they got to the station. Shackled and in separate cars, Amanda and Jake were driven to the police station without another word, while their car sat on the side of the road. But, it wouldn’t sit there long.
At about this time, Eric (Amanda’s boyfriend) was getting home after his appointment. He checked on the house briefly before returning to his car to proceed to the shop. Before he even got to the first stop sign on his road, 4 giant SWAT vehicles (3 vans and 1 SUV) came out of nowhere and surrounded his jeep. Teams of militarized police from each vehicle drew their shotguns and Glocks were aimed on his head.
Eric slowly opened his door and got out of the car with his cell phone in his hand. “Drop your weapon or we’ll shoot!” All the guns narrowed in a little more with their aim. He dropped his iPhone 6+ on the street as the soldiers swarmed in on him. After shackling his wrists, they put him into the passenger seat of his own vehicle and caravanned back to the house.
Eric watched as the police broke down the door and for 30 minutes, ransacked his house. The dogs were let out of their crates and even allowed to escape out to the yard. Eric worried that the dog in the yard would run away or that his other dogs would get shot despite being locked up. Police then transferred Eric to a squad car and they drove him to the jail.
Still at the house, the SWAT team destroyed the residence. Water was left running, soda cans were spilled everywhere, and an upstairs window was broken. Some of the small appliances were thrown from one room to another. In the bedrooms, they had strewn clothes everywhere and urinated on them every chance they could. They paid special attention to the lingerie and sex toys they found, playing around with them and violating these personal items. From the safe, police took money that had been saved by Jacob, and entered at least $5,000 less on the tabulation than was actually there. Finally, the jeep that Eric had been driving was towed away, the police left the house in shambles and the dogs in their own feces. One of the dogs developed infections on her feet from the conditions.
At the jail, each of the three family members were placed in different cells. Two of them weren’t even booked until hours had passed. Having never been to jail before, the trio had no idea what to expect. Amanda’s cuffs were too tight and her carpal tunnel was causing her arms to go numb. She asked several times for them to loosen the cuffs before they finally obliged.
The cells were dirty and there was blood all over the place; it was contaminated with pubic hair and feces on the wall. It was cold. Each one independently asked for a blanket, and each was independently told there were no clean blankets and were given the choice between dirty blankets or none at all. Jacob chose a dirty blanket and Amanda and Eric both opted to stay cold. Later, the guys overheard guards talking about 2 men who had been in each of their cells who were HIV positive and had been bleeding all over the floors and whatever else they touched. Jacob quickly regretted the choice to accept a dirty blanket.
As the night wore on, the captives were repeatedly denied phone calls. For hours they were held in cages with no information about why they were there, what their rights were, or the ability to call an attorney. Amanda pleaded for a chance to make a phone call. She had to make arrangements for the dogs who had been in crates all day and for someone to bring the nightly medications she was prescribed. Apparently, the jail doesn’t care about what medications a person has to take on a daily basis: they told Amanda she could not make a phone call and that her only option was to be taken to the hospital if her lack of medication became serious.
In the late evening, detectives finally took Jacob into an interview room. They asked him to read aloud his Miranda rights and then started asking questions. He refused to answer and told them he needed to speak with an attorney. They finally told Jacob that the investigation was for the possible possession of too much marijuana.
Eric was then taken in to the interview room by a monster of a detective. He was big, even to Eric who is not a small man himself, and he was intimidating. Eric felt threatened, but maintained that he would not answer questions without his attorney. Later, he was told that there would be another raid done on a private club where patients are able to drink coffee and hang out, but transfers were not allowed.
Amanda’s interview came next, long after all the inmates were asleep. She was told she was being arrested. Amanda refused to talk to them without her attorney and asked if she could call him. They sent her back to her cage without the phone call.
The next day, Amanda and Eric both requested their medications again several times, and all 3 of them continued to ask for phone calls which were never allowed. At some point in the afternoon, Jade (the manager from the shop) managed to get in contact with an attorney Amanda had previously worked with. The attorney called the jail and asked why Amanda, Jake and Eric had been detained for so long and why they hadn’t been allowed to have phone calls. Within a half an hour, all three of them were released with no charges filed.
At the end of the day, the uniformed pirates made out with the treasure they hoped for. Without charges even filed the police managed to seize 3 vehicles (one of which was brand new), the business and personal bank accounts of every person involved, money from safes in the house, valuables that the family owned, everything that wasn’t nailed down to the shop floor, and all the cannabis medicine they found. Amanda and her family will likely never see any of these possessions again.
The more important things that this family will never encounter again after this trauma are peace of mind and a sense of safety.