A couple in Pennsylvania is reportedly suing local authorities and their insurance agency after being told their hibiscus plants were actually marijuana — when they apparently weren’t.
Edward Cramer, 69, and his wife, Audrey, 66, said in a recently-filed lawsuit that while they weren’t charged with a crime, officers with the Buffalo Township Police Department treated them like criminals when they mistook their backyard plants for marijuana, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
The Cramers, in their lawsuit, reportedly said the issue began when their insurance agent visited their home Oct. 5 to assess a property damage claim. He took pictures of their hibiscus plants and sent them to police, believing the couple was working as part of a drug operation.
Two days later, officers came to their home with a search warrant and when Audrey opened the door, she said there were roughly a dozen cops “pointing assault-style rifles at her,” according to the Tribune-Review.
Police handcuffed the couple and held them in the back of a police vehicle for four hours as officers searched their house looking for marijuana. Audrey was allegedly only dressed in underwear during the incident.
"I was not treated as though I was a human being, I was just something they were going to push aside,” Audrey told WPXI. “I asked them again if I could put pants on and he told me no and I had to stand out on the porch."
Edward, according to the complaint, repeatedly said the plants were hibiscus and tried pointing out the blooming flowers on them.
The Cramers also allege that during the ordeal, Sgt. Scott Hess said he didn’t believe the plants were marijuana but still confiscated them after labeling them “tall, green, leafy, suspected marijuana plants,” according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The couple is suing Buffalo Township and Nationwide Insurance, and reportedly alleges excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy in their lawsuit.