In Kentucky, a new lawsuit accuses Louisville police of conducting a frightening and unwarranted raid that was prompted by nothing more than a whiff of marijuana.

The suit has been brought by Ashlea Burr and Mario Daugherty, a couple who say they were getting their three children ready for school one morning last October. It was then that officers allegedly came barreling through the door and held Daugherty to the ground, while holding the others at gunpoint.

A total of 14 Louisville Metro Police SWAT officers were apparently involved in the raid, which included the use of explosive devices. What prompted such a dramatic operation? According to a search warrant, which was detailed by local TV station WDRB, a detective had smelled marijuana around the house on separate occasions, giving him reason to believe that cannabis was being grown there. But the suit says that the man and woman named on the search affidavit do not even live at the home that was raided.

Lawsuit Names Multiple Defendants

The lawsuit has been filed against the city of Louisville, detective Joseph Tapp, and various other SWAT officers involved in the raid. “It is completely unreasonable to execute a warrant that vaguely mentions someone potentially smoking marijuana at a residence with a SWAT team of 14 officers, exploding devices, forced entry, and assault rifles, particularly when no investigation was done to determine who lived in the residence,” the suit said, according to WDRB.

The family’s attorney, Josh Rose, told WDRB that the raid was “not only a constitutional violation, but it’s absolutely ridiculous and unreasonable that this could ever happen in a city like ours.” According to the suit, one of the children at the raid, a 14-year-old, ran off to her grandmother’s house next door once the raid began. The police then drew their weapons on her, prompting her to sit down. Body camera footage from one of the officers, which was published by WDRB, shows a portion of the scene, with the teenager’s sobs audible in the background.

“You’re not hurt, right?” the officer can be heard asking.

“No,” the teen said.

“Just scared?” he replied. “I know. I’m sorry.” 

The lawsuit accuses Louisville police of carrying out unwarranted searches in predominantly black neighborhoods (the couple filing the suit is African American, according to WDRB). 

Earlier this year, the Louisville Metro Council passed an ordinance urging police officers not to prioritize marijuana possession, although that mandate only applies to half an ounce or less. 

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