A grow light shines through cannabis leaves at Northern Lights' Denver grow facility in March 2014. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Roommates sue Denver, Jeffco after military-style marijuana raid

Three roommates who grew medical marijuana are suing two law enforcement agencies after their rural Conifer home was raided “military-style” with armored vehicles, machine guns and flash grenades.

A year after the raid, none of the three has been charged with a crime, and they have received minimal response from Denver police and Jefferson County sheriff’s officials about why they confiscated $70,000 in cash, 28 firearms and a pickup truck, their attorney said.

“We have heard pretty much silence from the authorities on our requests for further information,” said Rob Corry, an attorney with The Cannabis Law Firm. “Our clients are innocent of any criminal wrongdoing whatsoever. This is a significant amount of property and they’d like to get it back.”

Denver police spokeswoman Christine Downs said the criminal investigation is ongoing and that she could not comment on the lawsuit. Jefferson County sheriff’s officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Heavily armed SWAT officers knocked in doors and threw flash grenades during the Jan. 23, 2015, raid, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday. Officers “assaulted” dogs at the “peaceful mountain home” and destroyed more than 350 marijuana plants.

Derek Smith and Shannon Riley, who are engaged, and their roommate Eric Hepper grew medical marijuana and sold it to Vietnam War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as well as cancer patients, their lawsuit says.

The Colorado constitution allows residents to grow medical marijuana for more than five patients when there is not a dispensary within a reasonable distance from their homes, according to the suit. It also allows residents to grow as many plants as their patients’ doctors recommend.

In a search warrant affidavit, Denver police said they were working with a confidential informant before the raid. Police said they saw Smith give a black canvas suitcase to another man, later found that man had marijuana, and then found a note that they believed to mean “10 pounds from Derek Smith at $2,200 a pound,” according to the lawsuit, which called that price “a first in the history of drug dealing.”

The roommates’ attorney said the 28 guns taken from the property were all “legally possessed” and were used by the roommates to protect themselves and their livestock.

“This is rural Colorado,” Corry said. “There is no law against cash and there is definitely no law against guns.”

Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, jenbrown@denverpost.com or @jbrowndpost

This story was first published on DenverPost.com