Wladyslaw “Wally” Kowalski was left stunned in September of this year after witnessing police officers raid his home and seize his personal property, including a power generator and expensive tools. His bank accounts were later reportedly frozen, leaving Kowalski incapable of paying bills and student loan installments.
But Kowalski was never charged with a crime — and he’s yet to be charged with any crime months later.
Kowalski, a design engineer with a doctorate degree, reportedly has a license to legally grow and sell medical marijuana to poor patients. Police claimed to have spotted the marijuana plants from a helicopter and decided to take action.
However, the police allegedly didn’t consider whether the plants were being legally grown. Kowalski told the Mackinac Center for Public Policy that officers confiscated items that had nothing to do with his small marijuana operation during the raid, including the generator.
When they searched his home, Kowalski recalled officers growing excited when they found information about his bank accounts.
"When they found my bank accounts here in my office, they let out a yell. They said, 'Here's the bank accounts, we got him.' It's like the happiest thing for them, to find my bank accounts,” he said.
Kowalski’s marijuana license was not revoked.
The Mackinac Center applied some pressure by publicizing the case, and police eventually unfroze Kowalski’s assets. They did not return his property, however. Police are able to keep his property “because of a little known part of the criminal system called civil asset forfeiture,” according to the Mackinac Center.
Kowalski is now baffled regarding how he should go about getting his property back. He said police should at least charge him with a crime so he can go to court and defend himself.
“This is the opposite of our constitutional freedoms,” Kowalski said. “They should have good reason to treat someone like a criminal, and not take an average person who is trying to abide by the law and treat them as if they are the worst criminal in the country.”
Reason explains what happened when another Michigan man who went through a similar situation:
Thomas Williams, another southwest Michigan resident, suffered a similar ordeal. His medical marijuana activities prompted police to ransack his property while they left him handcuffed for 10 hours. The cops took his car, phone, TV, and cash. Afterward, he had no means of getting to the grocery store or even contacting another human being for days. Like Kowalski, he hasn't been charged with a crime.
That was over a year ago. The police still have his stuff.
The Mackinac Center spoke to Kowalski and Williams about the controversial cases: