DENVER (CN) – City police in Colorado invaded a woman’s privacy by bringing along a TV crew that filmed an abusive home raid on her medical marijuana plants, for which she has a permit, she claims in Federal Court.
Thornton police had a search warrant, but it did not authorize them to bring a film crew with them, Tera Holderman says in her complaint.
She sued the city and police Sgt. Jim Gerhardt, who she says “turned over the videotaped footage to National Geographic, which was internationally broadcast on its program, ‘American Weed.'”
The only defendants are the city and Gerhardt.
Thornton, pop. 117,000 is a northern suburb of Denver.
Holderman claims that Gerhardt and other officers the film crew for a “ride-along” to promote themselves as anti-drug crusaders. In doing so, she says, they trashed her house for an international audience.
“On May 5, 2011, Defendant Gerhardt, accompanied by hordes of North Metro Drug Task Force officers, executed a search warrant on Ms. Holderman’s residence … in Broomfield, Colorado,” the complaint states.
“Upon information and belief, Defendant Jim Gerhardt was the supervisory agent on the scene. The search warrant was obtained on April 29, 2011 by North Metro Drug Task Force Officers to search Ms. Holderman’s home for marijuana.
“The search warrant was obtained on April 29, 2011 by North Metro Drug Task Force Officers to search Ms. Holderman’s home for marijuana.
“The search warrant did not authorize media presence during the execution of the search warrant.
“Tera Holderman was, at the time, licensed to grow medical marijuana.
“Members of the North Metro Drug Task Force raided Ms. Holderman’s home, turning everything inside out.
“Officers filmed the inside of Ms. Holderman’s home and her subsequent arrest.
“Defendant Thornton, through Defendant Gerhardt and other officers in the Thornton Police Department and the North Metro Drug Task Force, colluded with National Geographic before the execution of the search warrant and permitted a film crew on scene.
“National Geographic did not aid in the execution of the warrant.
“After the raid and arrest, Defendant Gerhardt turned over the police videotapes to National Geographic for its television series, ‘American Weed.’
“The raid, home invasion, and Ms. Holderman’s arrest was eventually internationally broadcast and seen by Ms. Holderman’s friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances.
“Defendant Gerhardt and other Thornton Police/North Metro Drug Task Force Officers appeared regularly on ‘American Weed’ to promote themselves and the efforts of Defendant Thornton, its Police Department, and the North Metro Drug Task Force in combating alleged drug crimes.”
The TV show follows marijuana growers, distributors and their opponents, including Sgt. Gerhardt, where voters in November made Colorado the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. According to the show’s website, Gerhardt has been featured in at least four episodes of the 10-part series.
Holderman claims that Gerhardt’s hunger for publicity violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and invasions of privacy.
“Defendants unreasonably disregarded and violated plaintiff’s constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment by permitting a media ‘ride-along’ and turning over the videotape of Ms. Holderman’s home invasion and arrest to National Geographic so they could publicly embarrass plaintiff in its internationally broadcast series, ‘American Weed,'” the complaint states.
She claims she also suffered “physical and emotional damages, including ongoing anxiety, among other injuries.”
She seeks punitive damages.
She is represented by David Lane with Killmer, Lane & Newman, in Denver.
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