Officers Ransack Home and Maybe Civil Rights
King County Superior Court has released the affidavit that a Washington State Patrol trooper used to obtain a search warrant for the Kent home of two medical-marijuana patients on July 10. The sworn testimony reveals state troopers searched Bruce and Rainee Osman's apartment before the warrant was issued and they knew the couple was authorized to grow marijuana under state law.
State Trooper Grant Slish, who was unavailable for comment, reported that one of the bedrooms in the Osmans' apartment contained several dozen marijuana plants, a bathroom housed about 20 seedlings, the living room contained marijuana-smoking paraphernalia, and a wall displayed doctor-signed forms allowing the couple to cultivate marijuana for medical use.
Officers had been dispatched to the home when troopers discovered the Osmans' 8-year-old daughter, Chandler, in the cab of a truck near Snoqualmie Pass. The truck had broken down and Chandler's grandfather—who was attempting repairs when the vehicle rolled back and crushed him—lay dead underneath it. She told officers that her parents were sick and unemployed, and that "her father stays busy growing the little trees for her mother's medicine," according to the affidavit. Instead of simply ensuring the couple, who both have hepatitis C, possessed valid authorizations to use marijuana signed by a physician, as required under Washington's 1998 Medical Use of Marijuana Act, officers arrested them, ransacked their home, and confiscated the plants ["Budthirsty," Dominic Holden, July 19].
"There were two crimes committed here. One was unlawful entry and the other was destruction of property," says Jeffrey Steinborn, one of the Osmans' two pro-bono attorneys. Unwarranted searches are a misdemeanor in Washington, he says. "The most stunning thing is to take a tragedy like this and respond to it so maliciously."
Trooper Slish's statement to the judge who signed the warrant claimed the Osmans were growing approximately 85 plants, including seedlings, thereby exceeding the state's ambiguous 60-day supply limit for each patient. The law doesn't specify how many plants a patient may legally cultivate. The warrant tasks officers with seizing evidence indicating the marijuana might be intended for sale or distribution.
Bruce Osman claims he and his wife had only 30 mature plants, intended for personal use.
The couple has yet to be charged with any crime.