They ended up finding only hibiscus plants.
Buffalo Township police also handcuffed her 69-year-old husband at gunpoint after he arrived home and finding a dozen cops rummaging through their home, looking for the non-existing marijuana plants.
Edward and Audrey Cramer tried to explain to the cops that they were only hibiscus plants, but Buffalo Township Police Sergeant Scott Hess refused to believe them, informing them he had “expertise” in identifying marijuana plants.
Buffalo Township police officer Jeffrey Sneddon also claimed to have expertise in identifying marijuana when he obtained the search warrant last month, according to the Tribune-Review.
Now the couple is suing the police department along with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., whose representative took photos of the hibiscus plants and sent them to police, informing them that they were marijuana plants.
It all started on October 5 when insurance agent Jonathan Yeamans entered the Cramer property to investigate a claim that a neighbor’s tree fell on their property in September.
While investigating the claim, Yeamans spotted the hibiscus plants and surreptitiously photographed them, sending the photos to police, claiming the Cramers were involved in an illegal marijuana growing operation.
Two days later, a dozen cops arrived at the home, banging on the door, pointing their assault rifles at Audrey Cramer who answered the door wearing only underwear, a bra and a t-shirt.
The cops claimed they had a search warrant, but refused to show it to her. They also refused to allow her to put on shoes or pants.
According to the Tribune-Review:
The suit claims Cramer asked if she could put on a pair of pants next to her, and was told “in no uncertain terms” that she could not.
She was placed under arrest and read her rights.
The complaint alleges that she was walked outside and made to stand — handcuffed, in her underwear and without shoes — for 10 minutes.
The suit claims that Hess refused her request to get sandals. Police walked her down the gravel driveway, barefoot, to a police car.
The complaint alleges that she was left in the “very hot” patrol car, with her hands cuffed behind her, for four-and-a-half hours.
The high temperature that day was 82, according to the Accuweather company.
When Cramer asked Hess, “What on earth is going on,” she was informed of the police’s search for marijuana.
The suit says she explained that the plants were flowering hibiscus plants, but Hess, claiming expertise, insisted that they were marijuana.
Her husband arrived 30 minutes later and was also placed in the back of the police car in handcuffs while the cops ransacked their home.
They were released four hours later with no charges after the cops determined the plants were not marijuana. Police, nevertheless, confiscated the hibiscus plants, describing them as “tall, green, leafy, suspected marijuana plants.”
Despite the fact that no marijuana was found on the property, Nationwide Mutual Insurance sent them a letter on October 26, threatening to cancel their policy if they failed to remove the marijuana plants.
The complaint states that Yeaman “intentionally photographed the flowering hibiscus plants in such a manner as not to reveal that they had flowers on them so that they would appear to resemble marijuana plants.”
Meanwhile, the couple have lost faith in police.
“I’m starting to understand why a lot of the public do not trust the police officers,” Audrey Cramer told KDKA.
“I’m starting to see a lot on TV where I thought, ‘No, you have to be wrong because the police wouldn’t make such a bad mistake.’ Yeah, they would.”
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