After a confusing arrest, a couple sues police after they mistake hibiscus flowers for weed. You may be wondering how something like this could possibly happen. It’s a tale of an officious insurance agent, mistaken identity and police brutality.
Nationwide Is Not On Your Side
The story begins a month ago with a fallen tree. In Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania, a tree fell onto the property of the Cramers—a married couple in their late 60s. As the tree originated from their neighbor’s yard, the Cramers called their insurance company, Nationwide. The insurance company sent agent Jonathan Yeamans to the property to investigate the claim.
While he was in the backyard, Yeamans discreetly took photographs of some flowering hibiscus plants. He sent the photos to the police and reported that the Cramers had an illegal cannabis grow operation.
The Wrong Kind of Flower
According to sources, Officer Jeffrey Sneddon of the Buffalo Township police obtained a search warrant. He, Sergeant Scott Hess and a dozen other officers arrived at the Cramer residence at noon on October 7. Audrey Cramer answered the door, partially dressed, to find herself staring down the barrels of 12 assault rifles.
Hess reportedly forced his way into the home and instructed his fellow officers to handcuff Cramer behind her back. He did not allow her to finish getting dressed. Instead, he placed her under arrest, made her stand outside for 10 minutes and then forced her to walk barefoot down her gravel driveway to a squad car.
About 30 minutes later, her husband, Edward Cramer, came home. The police officers arrested and handcuffed him at gunpoint and put him in the car with his wife. The police officers left them in the car for over four hours while they searched the property. It was 82°F that day.
The police did not discover any cannabis in the home or on the property. However, Hess confiscated the Cramer’s hibiscus plants, labeling them “suspected marijuana plants.”
The officers released the Cramers.
Obviously, this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. Knowing this, the couple sued police after they mistook their hibiscus flowers for weed. The lawsuit against the police includes allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, excessive force and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The suit reveals additional details. Apparently, both Sneddon and Hess had claimed to be experts in identifying cannabis. And yet, they couldn’t see that the hibiscus plants, which had flowers on it, was not a cannabis plant.
The Cramers have also leveled a lawsuit against Nationwide, the Nationwide agent who started this whole fiasco and Buffalo Township. The lawsuit against Yeamans claims that the photos he took were intentionally misleading. They cut out the hibiscus flowers and only showed the leaves.
Final Hit: Couple Sues Police After They Mistake Hibiscus Flowers For Weed
This entire case is absurd and infuriating.
From the Nationwide Insurance agent secretly taking photos of the plant to the grossly incompetent and aggressive officers who arrived at the scene. The Cramers have every reason to slam down those lawsuits. This is hardly the first time police officers have gotten overzealous and violent toward suspected cannabis growers or dealers. But honestly, even if the couple had been accused of cooking meth rather than growing weed, the kind of brutal and dehumanizing treatment they endured has absolutely no justification.