Homeschool Couple Pepper Sprayed in Front of Children Reach Settlement With Sheriff, Deputy

Photo Credit: Jason Esbain
Photo Credit: Jason Esbain

NEW HAMPTON, Mo. — A homeschooling couple has agreed to accept a settlement offer from a Missouri sheriff and his deputy after they filed a lawsuit for being pepper sprayed and tasered for refusing to let police in their house without a warrant.

As previously reported, the situation occurred in September 2011 after a Missouri Child Protective Services (CPS) agent had visited the home of Jason and Laura Hagan of New Hampton following a complaint of a messy home. When the caseworker sought to return a second time for a follow-up, the couple refused. CPS then called the police.

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Sheriff Darren White and Chief Sheriff’s Deputy David Glidden then arrived at the home, seeking to enter. Mr. Hagan told the men that they needed to obtain a warrant from a court.

When Glidden stated that he would enter anyway, Hagan turned to go back in the house, and was consequently pepper sprayed in the back of his head, and then in his face. Mrs. Hagan was then sprayed as well.

As Mr. Hagan was still standing after the ordeal, he was then tasered, which caused him to fall to the floor just inside of the door. Mrs. Hagan then closed the door on the deputy.

But at this point, White joined Glidden on the porch, and together they busted open the Hagan’s door, forcing their way inside. They found both Mr. and Mrs. Hagan lying on the floor and began pepper spraying them again. They also sprayed a “chemical agent” on the dog and threatened that they would shoot if he did not stop barking at them.

The Hagans were then handcuffed and charged with child endangerment and resisting arrest, and the children were taken to the hospital for exposure to the pepper spray used by the sheriff and his deputy on their parents. The children at the time were ages 13, 10 and 8.

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As the Hagans were then forced to appear in court to answer for the charges, a judge instead found that Glidden and White had violated the couple’s Fourth Amendment rights by forcing entry into their home without a warrant.

“All too often, law enforcement officers and child-welfare workers act as if the Fourth Amendment does not apply to CPS investigations. They are wrong,” said HSLDA Senior Counsel James Mason. “The Fourth Amendment is a legal shield that protects people from exactly the kind of mistreatment the Hagans endured.”

Therefore, as the criminal matter was dismissed against the Hagans, HSLDA filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last November against White and Glidden to seek retribution for the ordeal. While the organization provided few details this week in its update on the matter, it announced that a settlement has now been reached.

“After protracted negotiations, both the officers and the Hagans have agreed to settle the case out of court,” HSLDA reported. “With the case closed, the Hagans will be able to turn the page on this chapter of their lives.”

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