Lawsuit: Homeschool Family Attacked By Sheriff Over 'Messy' House

"The Fourth Amendment strikes a carefully crafted balance between a family’s right to privacy and the government’s need to enforce the law."

The Home School Legal Defense Association has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against a Missouri sheriff and his deputy for unlawfully entering a residence and using force to subdue the occupants over a report of a messy house.

According to a HSLDA statement, the home of Laura and Jason Hagan was raided on September 30, 2011 by Nodaway County Missouri Sheriff Darren White and Deputy David Glidden in violation of the Hagan's Fourth Amendment rights.

A few days prior to the incident, a Child Protective Services caseworker was at the home investigating a report of a messy house and came back on the day in question for a follow-up. When the CPS worker was not allowed in, she called on the sheriff.

Here is the report of the incident:

When Deputy Glidden arrived at the Hagans’ home he demanded to be allowed inside. Jason opened the door and told Glidden that he could not enter unless he had a court order.

Glidden said he would enter anyway.

As Jason turned to go back inside, Glidden sprayed him with pepper spray—first at the back of his head and then directly in his face. Glidden also sprayed Laura, who fell to the floor. Glidden then turned to Jason, who was still standing, and shot him in the back with his Taser. As Jason fell, Laura closed the front door. Glidden triggered the Taser three more times through the closed door.

Sheriff White joined Glidden on the front porch.Together they forced open the door and found Laura and Jason lying on the floor. Glidden sprayed Laura in the face a second time while White sprayed Jason and tried to turn him over onto his stomach. Laura shouted to the officers that Jason had been taken to the emergency room earlier in the week for chest pains. White nevertheless continued attempting to turn Jason over and sprayed him a third time when he was unsuccessful. The officers also sprayed the Hagans’ dog with chemical agent and threatened to shoot it if it didn’t stop barking.

Finally, the officers handcuffed and arrested Laura and Jason and charged them with resisting arrest and child endangerment.

All of this took place in front of the Hagans’ three young children, who were then taken to the emergency room to be evaluated for exposure to pepper spray.

As the Hagans stood trial, a judge dismissed the case, ruling that the family's Fourth Amendment rights were violated and no sufficient evidence was presented to prove that a warrantless entry was justified.

Now, the HSLDA is pursuing the civil case against the two officers. "The Fourth Amendment strikes a carefully crafted balance between a family’s right to privacy and the government’s need to enforce the law," notes the HSLDA. It adds:

Law enforcement can only work if our officers follow the laws themselves. If we stand by and allow law enforcement to flagrantly disregard our Fourth Amendment rights, those rights will be eroded and eventually ignored. And real parents and real children will continue to be harmed.