A viral video shows North Carolina police enter a home without a warrant on April 8, claiming they had smelled marijuana.
The home’s residents became upset about being violated and pandemonium ensued when the officers realized they were being recorded.
Vera McGriff, who initially posted the viral video, said police came to her door and demanded to search the house.
When she refused because the officer did not present a search warrant, eight cops barged in anyway and began terrorizing the household.
“I told the officer, No you cannot come in my house without a search warrant. The officer put his foot at the bottom of the door and four of them bum rushed me …”
After barging in without a warrant, Durham police claimed two of their officers were assaulted, but McGriff and the video tell a different story.
“Everybody was tased, one officer hit my son in the face with his Glock 9, we were choked, kicked, thrown down on the floor,” McGriff stated, according to Opposing Views.
When they arrived, police did not have a warrant at 10:30 pm.
Only after they were already inside of the home, and had everyone detained, did they find a judge, returning with a warrant at 12:50 am.
“We all sat in handcuffs for 4-5 hours while they waited for the search warrant,” McGriff wrote on Facebook.
In the warrant, Officer J.M. Foster said he received information from another officer that Khadir Cherry was selling drugs, which was why he arrested him on April 4.
Foster stated that he was just conducting a follow up investigation at the home of Cherry when he encountered Raynell Hall in the driveway and asked to talk to the homeowner, Vera McGriff.
He stated that when Hall opened the door and walked inside, he smelled marijuana.
He wrote in the warrant petition, “through my training and experience I know that the only thing that smells like marijuana is marijuana.”
That’s when police decided to “seize the house” and conduct “safety sweep for suspect,” according to the petition for the warrant.
Wil Glenn, a spokesperson for Durham police, explained why residents in the home were tasered:
“In order to execute the arrests during the volatile scene, officers deployed a Taser on Mr. Hall and an officer struck Mr. Cherry with a baton in the area between the hip and knee.”
Police charged 42-year-old Raynell Hall with assault on a government officer and resisting a public officer, which is a tactic police often use to avoid civil liability.
Police also charged 24-year-lold Jahmon Cedeno with assault on a government official.
Khadir Cherry was arrested, again, for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, as well as assault on a public officer and resisting.
And homeowner 48-year-old Vera McGriff was charged with maintaining a dwelling and resisting a public officer.
McGriff wrote on Facebook after being released from jail:
“After being falsely accused of using and harboring marijuana, we were subject to the physical assault and terrorizing actions from a gang of police officers that included assaults with batons, an officer’s gun and over four hours of handcuffed detainment. The terror, by these officers, did not stop when my 11 year old son, recently home from the hospital, began to vomit and seize. Nor did they stop when my 10 year old daughter screamed and called out to her mommy in fear.”
The video raised questions from the public about harassment, use of force, warrantless searches and racial profiling.
But Durham police say they were responding to complaints about drug dealing.
“Such searches are not unique in Durham and support the contention that police are using marijuana enforcement to intimidate and ‘terrorize members’ of the black and brown community,” said Nia Wilson, executive director of community organizing non-profit SpiritHouse.
In November of 2015, a Self-Help Credit Union report found that, African Americans continue to comprise over 80 percent of the people charged for misdemeanor marijuana violations, while whites remain a small fraction of those charged.
The report also found that African Americans ages 25 and under represent about 15 percent of Durham’s population, yet this group represents 46 percent of misdemeanor marijuana charges.
Further, only 12 percent of misdemeanor marijuana charges are instigated by a citizen complaint. The overwhelming majority are actions initiated by the DPD.
In another study, a recent RTI International study commissioned by Durham interim police Chief Larry Smith, results concluded HEAT (High Enforcement Abatement Team) officers disproportionately stopped black drivers.
The illegal invasion seen in the video, as well as the subsequent arrests, were carried out by HEAT officers, which are used by the department to handle so-called crime “hot spots”, according to the city of Durham’s website.
According to newsobserver.com, Charlie Reece, a Durham City Councilman, who is an attorney and former assisted attorney general, said he wants to look into how HEAT operates from a policy maker’s point of view.
“I think once we are confronted with the reality of what these situations look like from the perspective of the people who live inside a home where this happens, I think it forces all of us to confront whether or not this is the best interest of our city. That’s the conversation I intend to move forward in the weeks and months ahead.”
HEAT is operating on taxpayer funds, which should never be used to enter homes without warrants in order to terrorize families over a marijuana joint. Especially when states across the country are legalizing medical marijuana and cities are decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana.
The below video demonstrates how the war on drugs is really just a war on you.