Remember the kids in high school who tried like hell to score weed but ended up with oregano instead? Well, put those kids in police uniforms and you have some idea of what happened to Dwayne Perry of Cartersville, Ga.
Perry said he woke Oct. 21 to the sound of a helicopter buzzing above his house. Minutes later, heavily armed sheriff’s deputies with a drug dog knocked on his front door. The deputies belonged to the Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppression, a police group that targets marijuana and other drugs.
“I was scared, actually, at first, because I didn’t know what was happening,” Perry said. “They were strapped to the gills.”
Why were the deputies there?
Apparently, Perry grows okra next to his house, and the cops thought it was pot. Yes, you heard that right: A bunch of narcs, who should know weed better than anyone who doesn’t toke it, mistook a couple okra plants and a shrub for a marijuana garden – and then proceeded to raid it.
The deputies were flying low over Perry’s neighborhood, on the lookout for illegal pot grows, when they spotted the okra.
”Instead, it’s okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house,” Perry said.
The officers eventually apologized and left, he said. Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes of the Georgia State Patrol said the agency hadn’t officially determined the nature of the plants as of early October.
“We’ve not been able to identify it as of yet,” Stokes said. “But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant.”
But the cannabis plant and the okra plant have almost nothing in common. Perry said his plants have five leaves, not the seven found on marijuana plants. And okra is in an entirely different classification (or “order”) of flowering plants.
This kind of mistake should never have happened, Perry said.
“Here I am, at home and retired, and you know I do the right thing,” he said. “Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right.”
Stokes defended the state patrol and said deputies never meant to upend Perry’s life.
“If we disturbed them in any manner, that’s not our intent,” Stokes said. “Our intent is to go out and do our job and do it to the best of our ability.”
But Perry said the damage is already done. He received calls about the raid for days, he said, and his reputation has been harmed, maybe irreparably. Perry said police didn’t go far enough when they apologized.
“The more I thought about it, what could have happened?” he asked. “Anything could have happened.”