SWAT team called in over landscaping flap

Ray Cortopassi/Eyewitness News
Jul. 10, 2009

Video HereIndianapolis - A call to the city's SWAT team was the final move against one property owner who let his grass grow higher than a foot.

Specially trained officers were called out to the 9000 block of Harrison Run Drive as city crews tried to groom one unruly yard on the northeast side.

Harrison Run is a neighborhood well cared for. At home after home in this subdivision near 71st and Fall Creek Road, neighbors tend to their yards. That's why one in particular stood out - or in this case, stood up.

"We're talking about a foot and half tall," said Luis Araoz, neighbor.

But the high grass produced more than just dandelions. Monday morning, it called out Metro's SWAT team.

"This is a first for something I had to run up against," said Lt. Jeff Duhamell, IMPD.

The city's Office of Code of Enforcement responded after a notice of high grass and weeds went unheeded for at least five days. So it showed up with a mowing crew to do the job. But police say when contractor Dominique Thompson climbed up on the riding mower, he noticed the homeowner pointing a shotgun directly at him.

"I was kind of shocked. This man pulled a gun on me, and I'm out here doing a job. There was a lot going on in my mind at that point," said Thompson.

Police say the man on the other side of the weapon was 32-year-old Christopher Rhymes. He touched off a standoff that lasted three hours.

"They attempted to negotiate with him by audio means, loud speakers. They tried to call him with no answer, finally they made a limited penetration into the house. They heard him inside and subsequently he gave up," said Duhamell.

This wasn't the first time for residents of Harrison Run. They say it had become a summertime tradition. While they'd be busy manicuring their lawns, Rhymes was busy digging his heels into his.

"He doesn't want to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood," said Kevin Marrs, neighbor.

The homeowners association says it took Rhymes to small claims court to force him to cut his grass, a ritual that repeated itself over the years.

"There's one in every neighborhood," said Marrs. "I happen to live a couple doors away from it."

At the end of the day, SWAT did its job and a misdemeanor charge was leveled against Rhymes and the grass got cut.

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