Audrey Cramer was standing at her front door in her underwear, looking at a team of police officer with assault rifles.
And all over a horticultural error.Screenshot/KDKA News
As KDKA News reported, in September, 66-year-old Audrey and her 69-year-old husband, Edward, asked Nationwide Insurance to come out and assess damage to their home from a fallen tree. While there, the insurance agent took photos of a plant in the Cramer’s garden he believed was marijuana.
Unbeknownst to the Pennsylvania couple, the agent sent the “marijuana” photos to the local police department. However, the plant was actually a flowering hibiscus.
Several weeks later, the Buffalo Township Police arrived at Audrey’s door with a search warrant. She was wearing only a bra, shirt, and underwear and said the officers refused to let her get dressed. Instead, Audrey was placed under arrest, handcuffed, and locked in the police car while they searched her home for marijuana. In the video below, she told KDKA:
“I didn’t want too many people to know what had happened because I really don’t like being stood outside in my underwear.”
About 30 minutes later, Edward arrived and was also arrested, handcuffed, and placed in the car. An avid gardener, Edward tried to clear up the misunderstanding and pointed to the flowers blooming on their hibiscus plants. However, police insisted the couple was growing marijuana. Edward told KDKA:
“They actually ignored me. They wouldn’t even listen. I said, ‘I can show you pictures on the internet.'”
On a day when temperatures reached 82 degrees, Edward and Audrey spent four-and-a-half hours in the patrol car. The hibiscus plants were confiscated, even though one officer admitted he didn’t think they were marijuana.Screenshot/KDKA News
Now, the Cramers say the search damaged their house and caused emotional trauma. Audrey has difficulty sleeping and doesn’t want to be left alone in the house. As she told KDKA, the incident shook her faith in the police:
“I’m starting to understand why a lot of the public do not trust the police officers. I’m starting to see a lot on TV where I thought, ‘No, you have to be wrong because the police wouldn’t make such a bad mistake.’ Yeah, they would.”
What’s more, their insurance company sent them a letter threatening to cancel their policy because of the presence of marijuana in the garden.
The Cramers are now suing the police department, the insurance company, and the insurance agent. According to the Tribune-Review, the claim alleges the insurance agent sent misleading photos to the police:
“[He] intentionally photographed the flowering hibiscus plants in such a manner as not to reveal that they had flowers on them so that they would appear to resemble marijuana plants.”
Their attorney questions the way the search and arrest were carried out, especially forcing a 66-year-old woman in her underwear to spend hours in a hot police car. As he told the Tribune-Review: “Being arrested, for people like this who have no history with crime and no experience with law enforcement, this is an incredibly traumatic experience.”
Watch the couple talk about their experience below, via KDKA: