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Texas woman sues reality TV show after marijuana raid

Photo By Montgomery County Police Reporter When Montgomery County officials executed a search warrant at a New Caney home on Sept. 22-23, 2011, they said they found a hydroponic growing system with 60 marijuana plants.
Photo By Montgomery County Police Reporter
When Montgomery County officials executed a search warrant at a New Caney home on Sept. 22-23, 2011, they said they found a hydroponic growing system with 60 marijuana plants.

A reality show called Texas Takedown has been sued for infringement of privacy rights after they illegally documented a raid on a Montgomery County woman’s home for marijuana.

The show was meant to be similar in format to Cops, but focused entirely on the home invasion aspect and the spectacle of drug raids. A raid which took place in 2011 now has them in hot water.

In September of 2011 their cameras rolled as police busted down the door of 59-year-old Perla Carr. Once inside, officers arrested the woman and her son, Zachary May, and confiscated 60 cannabis plants. Despite what was found, eventually the charges again Carr were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Now, Carr is suing the TV show for violating her rights.

She claims that the affidavit used to search the house was based only on testimonial that people smelled cannabis coming from the house. She is also claiming that having the film crew involved was a violation of her rights, citing the Fourth Amendment, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wilson vs. Lane, which states that it is “a violation of the Fourth Amendment for police to bring members of the media or other third parties into a home during the execution of a warrant when the presence of the third parties in the home was not in aid of the execution of the warrant.”

The judge has allowed the lawsuit to proceed, saying that police failed to obtain her consent and have the proper release forms signed.

Carr says officers entered her home around 10:15 p.m. and woke her up. As Carr emerged from her bedroom, she says officers pointed at least one gun with laser sights at her chest, according to the second amended complaint filed in February.

The group, which Carr said had no search warrant or arrest warrant, included Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden, Chief Barry Welch of the constable’s office, three constable’s deputies and a reporter who worked for “several newspapers,” the complaint stated.

Carr’s suit also named Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon and First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant as defendants. Although Ligon and Grant were not in the group that came to Carr’s house, her suit claims they advised Hayden by telephone to force entry.

In March, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss Carr’s complaint on the basis of federal rules of civil procedure.

Carr maintained in her complaint that, prior to the officers’ arrival, no marijuana or anything else illegal was visible from outside the home she shared with her son, Zachary May. Nor was there a suspicion that anyone was in danger inside the house, she claimed.

“No one was in danger except Perla Carr when officers leveled several firearms at her,” the complaint stated.

As Carr sat handcuffed in a lawn chair outside, the officers allowed the reporter to film the inside of her home.

After searching the residence and allegedly finding marijuana plants, the officers wrote a misleading affidavit to get a search warrant, which arrived about 12:30 a.m. the next morning, according to the complaint.

Carr was charged with felony marijuana possession, but the charge was dismissed for lack of evidence in May, 2012, records state. Her son, who was also charged, pleaded guilty.

At some point after the charge against her was dropped, Carr discovered a video on YouTube showing the officers breaking into her home with a crowbar. The video, used for the television show “Texas Takedown,” was available on YouTube as late as February but can no longer be found on the website.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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