CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — A Cartersville man is upset after he said investigators mistook a garden full of okra for marijuana plants. The man growing the popular Southern food said a helicopter woke him up Wednesday and then he had deputies show up at his door.
“I was scared actually, at first, because I didn’t know what was happening,” said homeowner Dwayne Perry. All he noticed was that there was a chopper sitting unusually low over his house, then Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep in minutes. “They were strapped to the gills,” Perry said.
It turned out, that helicopter was from the Governor’s Task Force for drug suppression and they were out looking for domestic cannabis plants and spotted the tree and plants.
“Instead, it’s okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house,” Perry said.
Channel 2’s Carl Willis called the Georgia State Patrol, who operates the task force, for an explanation. They sent an evidence photo. “We’ve not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant,” said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes.
Perry said his plants had five leaves, not seven like on the cannabis plant. He said a mistake like this shouldn’t happen. “Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing,” Perry said. “Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right.”
The authorities apologized on the scene and again when Willis called. “If we disturbed them in any manner, that’s not our intent. Our intent is to go out and do our job and do it to the best of our ability,” Stokes said.
But Perry said he doesn’t think those words go far enough. “The more I thought about it, what could have happened? Anything could have happened,”
Perry said he’s still getting calls about all of the deputy vehicles that responded at his home. He fears his reputation has been damaged.