At 7:10 on a Thursday morning in July of 1999, narcotics officers in Roseville, California rushed the home of 78-year-old Sandy Sanborn and his wife Grace. Sanborn was knocked to the floor when he attempted to open the door just as police kicked it open. Agents next apprehended his wife, who awoke to find police pointing assault weapons at her head.
Both were handcuffed and held at gunpoint. The Sanborns later said that while searching the house, instead of simply opening the doors to their kitchen, pantry, and other rooms, the police ripped them off their hinges. After an exhaustive search that left their home in tatters, Police Detective Ron Goodpaster apologized, and the raid team left.
A subsequent investigative report in the Sacramento News & Review revealed that the search on the Sanborns' home came about after a deputy officer in the sheriff's department of a neighboring county discovered that the Sanborns' son had merely shopped at a hydroponic plant store. Customers of such stores were increasingly becoming the targets of police investigations and raids in the 1990s, even though there are plenty of uses for hydroponic supplies that have nothing to do with marijuana. (And of course it still happens today.)
The report also found that though police claimed in the search warrant affidavit to have found marijuana in the Sanborns' trash, the phrase they used, "The marijuana was fresh, green and still moist and had been recently cut from a mature marijuana plant," was identical to language used on dozens of other search warrant affidavits used to conduct similar raids.
The police found no marijuana -- or any other illicit substance -- in the Sanborns' home.
(The "Raid of the Day" features accounts of police raids I've found, researched, and reported while writing my forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's due out in July, but you can pre-order it here.)