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Lawsuit: Kentucky SWAT Team Aims Assault Rifles at Children in Futile Search for Marijuana Grower

A Black couple is suing a Kentucky police department after 14 SWAT officers raided their home last year and allegedly held the pair and their three children at gunpoint after accusing the couple of growing and selling marijuana. 

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 21 on behalf of Ashlea Burr and Mario Daughtery, alleged that Louisville Metro Police officers violated the couple’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure when officers conducted the raid, according to the lawsuit Atlanta Black Star obtained Thursday. 

SWAT before botched drug raid
Louisville police are shown outside a family’s home for a botched drug raid that is now the subject of a lawsuit. (Screenshot from Louisville Metro Police Department via WDRB)

A SWAT team used explosive devices and drew “assault rifles on minor children,” Oct. 26, 2018, in the 1900 block of West Chestnut Street, according to the suit.  

The suit also alleged that the premise for the raid was completely false.

Detective Joseph Tapp allegedly said in a search affidavit the lawsuit cited that “a black male named Anthony McClain is growing marijuana and has multiple bags of marijuana packaged for sale in the front bed room” and that “a white female named Holly was his girlfriend and owned the house.”

“Those representations were false, made willfully and/or in reckless disregard for the truth, and even the most basic due diligence would have revealed their falsity,” attorney Josh Rose said in the lawsuit. 

Burr isn’t white, and no one named Anthony McClain or Holly lived in the home, which the lawsuit said was owned by a man named Kevin Hyde.

The suit said Burr “shielded her children from the rifles” and that both she and Daughtery were “extremely frightened that their children would be maimed or killed and/or that they themselves would be maimed or killed.” 

Police “forced” Daughtery “on the ground at gunpoint,” and when one of the children tried to run to her grandmother’s house, “officers drew their assault rifles on her” and told her to get on the ground, according to the lawsuit.

“It was cold and rainy, and (the child) was not wearing any socks, shoes or a jacket,” the suit said.

“She repeatedly requested to be taken to her grandmother’s next door, but the officers refused the requests, kept her in the cold, wet conditions, and kept their rifles on her,” according to the lawsuit. 

Officers allegedly said the girl “may have weapons in her hair,” the suit alleged.

The family is seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages, according to the suit.

Rose told WDRB the children have gone to counseling and experienced multiple nightmares.

The couple’s 14-year-old daughter can be heard sobbing in bodycam video depicting what happens after the raid.

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