Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputies Raided a Cultivator’s Home After Responding to a Robbery. Now, They're Being Sued.

A medical cannabis grower in Nevada County whose house was robbed says he was victimized a second time by members of the sheriff’s department when they confiscated the rest of his weed after responding to the 911 call. Now he’s suing for unreasonable search and seizure and other alleged violations of his constitutional rights.

The Union’s Liz Kellar describes the facts surrounding the case: 

The basis for the civil suit stems from what transpired after the home invasion on Nov. 11, 2017. [Brian Chaplin], who has been growing medicinal cannabis in Nevada County since 2013, was not home at the time of the robbery at a Brooks Road property. Several collective workers were ambushed by five men in tactical gear who held them at gunpoint and bound them with zip ties before stealing about 40 totes of marijuana cola on the stem and a GreenBroz trim machine.

The workers freed themselves and called Chaplin, who in turn called 911. According to the complaint, Chaplin was met at the gate by Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Mackey, who was notified this was a medical grow. Deputies on scene then called out Sgt. Justin Martin, then-head of the Narcotics Task Force, and a search warrant for commercial marijuana cultivation was served, the complaint states. Sheriff’s deputies subsequently seized and destroyed the remainder of Chaplin’s cannabis crop, reportedly 170 plants and nearly 350 pounds of cola on the stem.

Chaplin subsequently filed a claim against the county, which was denied in June 2018.

Elford’s amended complaint clarifies some of the sequence of events and the alleged acts by law enforcement that violated Chaplin’s rights. Elford has said he intends to prove the search warrant was not valid, and the marijuana was legally possessed under California law and therefore Chaplin is entitled to compensation for its destruction.

A hearing was set to take place last month but was postponed while the plaintiff’s lawyers added more alleged violations to their suit.


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