Undercover Officer Befriends Bipolar and Autistic Teen, Convinces Him To Buy Pot For Him, Then Arrests Him

Badge_of_the_Riverside_County_Sheriff's_DepartmentThe video below has been released in a lawsuit over a highly disturbing case where a Riverside undercover officer befriended a 17-year-old boy with autism and convinced him to buy pot for him. They then arrested him and added him to their list of drug war statistics. Before the arrest, in addition to autism, their son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Tourette syndrome and anxiety disorders.

The teenager was one of 21 other high school students arrested on drug-dealing charges as part of a sting operation last December at Chaparral High School in Temecula, Calif. and neighboring schools. His parents, Catherine and Doug Snodgrass, are suing the Temecula Valley School District, alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They say that their son has autism and did not have friends. That made him an ideal target for the undercover officer who befriended him. His parents were excited that he had made a friend. The video from the arrest is heart-breaking when the kid realized that Deputy Daniel Zipperstein of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in uniform was his friend, Daniel.

They say that Zipperstein hounded their son to sell him marijuana or his prescription medication and that after more than three weeks of constant pressure, the teen bought a half-joint from a homeless man and gave it to the officer. Half a joint. He then was convinced to make a second small buy but then refused to do it again. He was then arrested. Quite a trophy.

The parents say that the autistic teen is still reeling from the betrayal and arrest, including insomnia, panic attacks, depression, paranoia and infliction of self-injury, his parents said.

The Riverside Sheriff’s office has brushed aside the public outcry over the case and said that it “followed all pertinent laws and the case was reviewed by the DA’s Office. Had there been entrapment issues, the DA’s Office would not have filed the case.” In such case, the need for reform includes both the police and prosecutors.

58 thoughts on “Undercover Officer Befriends Bipolar and Autistic Teen, Convinces Him To Buy Pot For Him, Then Arrests Him

  1. Pretty disgusting.

    So much for our “heroes” in blue.

    Obviously the Riverside PD is overmanned – needs to have its funding cut.

  2. “They then arrested him and added him to their list of drug war statistics.”

    Of course, public sector unions will not stand for going after police corruption, but the VA Hospital is fair game.

  3. Definitely seems like entrapment. I mean, they targeted a kid who probably had trouble making friends, and then got him to do something he’d never do on his own.

    Also, isn’t this what drug dealers do? They target the “weak” and get them to work for them.

  4. The video clearly points out the underlying reason for the bizarre enforcement is to get easy arrests to increase the numbers needed for federal grant money. There is no regard for the lives destroyed. The DA supports the local police greed….shock. They target kids not likely to be able to afford a defense.

  5. If the facts as laid out are true, this officer and department should be sued under the ADA, the CRA, and a nice 1983 action to cement the COAs. The DOJ should investigate as well as the states attorney general. This is BS and they should be called out for this action.

  6. We need police. We need to arrest predatory drug traffickers. We need to get rid of idiots on the police force. There must be some way to filter out dangerous idiots like Deputy Dan. The problem is that suing the City of Riverside and/or the police department works against the society as it curtails funds necessary for the safeguarding of society. Perhaps the way to deal with this is through attrition, fire Deputy Dan, fire his supervisor or whom ever can be found to have authorized the program, and keep moving more intelligent and educated people up the line. If an officer is threatened with losing his job then perhaps he or she will take the time to think about the threat to society instead of being the threat to society.

  7. The individual cops are not the basest of the offenders. The real criminals are those in the police department who set up this up, also the school administrators who let the cops review the students’ files. All charges against the students should be dropped with profound apologies from the prosecutors, best expressed through the payment of damages to each student who was targeted. In addition, the feds should drop this department from their list of police departments who get federal funds to expand their efforts. This department obtained its funds through fraud and it misused the funds it received.

  8. Riverside must be the safest community in the country if their cops have the time to conduct this type of activity. Yessiree, I would feel real safe living there with the likes of Deputy Dan on duty.

  9. Gobsmacked. I am appalled and sickened. I find myself unable to breathe over this horrendous conduct. That poor kid! The #AutismSpeaks people must be outraged as well. From the top down, the Riverside system needs to be purged and disinfected. Let’s hope the community continues to protest and demand changes until something is actually done.

  10. Yeah, I’m gonna agree with Rick here and throw it out there – in the suburbs of Baltimore, the police stings involving drugs were going after heroin and cocaine. If you’re spending time making a sting operation to catch kids buying and selling less than a gram of weed, your county is lucky. And you should stop doing even that because you’ve succeeded in eliminating real crime.

  11. Just more proof that our drug “war” is crazy and destructive to we the people. Should the parents sue, absolutely, will it cost the city? Yep. Will it change? Hopefully some day. Just today there was a great article on the cost of police malfeasance (http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/imagine-what-we-could-buy-if-we-didnt-have-spend-billions-police-brutality-cases?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark).

    Officer Friendly turned out to be not so friendly. Great way to have our youth respect police isn’t it?

  12. Of course everything was “followed all pertinent laws”. Just because there isn’t a law preventing something, doesn’t mean that it isn’t immoral. ATF did the same thing during one of their gun running schemes. Hire mentally disabled men, give them money and cigarettes, and then arrest them when they actually bring the guns the agents asked them to.
    The immorality of far too many in law enforcement where the ends justify the means gives the good cops a bad name. Worse is that the entire law enforcement community now thinks THEY are the ones being wronged by the public shining a spotlight on disgusting behavior done by police in the name of the war on drugs.

  13. Undercover officers are supposed to catch criminals in the act, not entice any law-abiding citizens to break the law. Entrapment.

    This makes me so furious, especially since this can have life-long, lasting effects on such a vulnerable child. I would be afraid he would commit suicide.

    I rarely say this, but they should sue the pants off of anyone involved.

    Something similar happened in a case where my mom served as a juror. It was a sting that caught a man who met an undercover officer, whom he thought was 16, for a tryst at a hotel. When she heard the charges, she thought guilty. But it turns out the man was a very young, sheltered Muslim who was on a student visa for college. He had zero friends, was very shy and naive, and had never spoken with a girl before. His culture typically arranged marriages between couples who could only start dating when they got engaged. He was just on a regular chat room when the officer targeted him. She became his online friend, and then kept begging to meet him. He kept putting her off, saying it wouldn’t be proper to meet. But she was his only friend. She said if he didn’t meet her she wouldn’t be his friend anymore. So he finally said, sure, but he didn’t want to sleep with her. She said she would only meet him if he brought certain “items” from a particular type of store. She said they could play it by ear when he got there. They arrested him. There are so many real predators out there, I could not believe they wasted 6 months begging and pleading with a normal guy to try to make him break the law. The jury unanimously acquitted him.

  14. What a load of crap from the local cops and DA. This isn’t just unjust IT IS STUPID!! Hopefully the voters will send a message it the polls to the DA and the High Sheriff. My late brother was a Texas prosecutor for his entire professional life and would never
    stood for this kind of misconduct by the police.

  15. We had a similar situation: The DA’s Investigator (abusive) went out of state to intimidate our granddaughter (who is bipolar) five years after indictment was to be dropped and put her Dad in prison to save face and become Judge.

  16. Yet another example of the idiocy of the so called “war on drugs” How much time and taxpayer money was spent on the purchase of less than a single marijuana cigarette One can only imagine the twisted mentality of this undercover cop who preyed on the vulnerability of this poor friendless teenager. I hope this rotten pig gets fired but there is little chance of that but maybe he might be personally liable for any damages recovered as a result of the lawsuit

  17. ” One can only imagine the twisted mentality of this undercover cop who preyed on the vulnerability of this poor friendless teenager.”

    Holy warrior. 1000 years ago they wore white tunics with red crosses, and went to Jerusalem to fight the Muslim hoard. Today they wear badges and fight drug users. It’s hard to have any common sense penetrate the world of the badge when the echo chamber of other cops reinforcing this behavior is deafening, and when they see themselves under siege from the outside world that they don’t feel they belong to.

  18. All of that work to nab someone for half a joint? What a waste of time. The fact that the boy was only able to secure a half-joint from a homeless person after weeks of working him shows clearly that he was not connected to the drug world. Plus, preying on a mentally challenged child in this manner, that’s pretty low, and at least likely to be legally difficult to prove given mens rea issues.

    If this somehow goes to trial it surely is a case for jury nullification.

  19. Thanks for posting this Dr. Turley. I’ve been following this story for the last year or so and it continues to sicken me. I wish the feds would get their heads out of their asses and realize that this type of reward is doing much more harm than good. As a taxpayer, it pisses me off that this is what my tax dollars are being used for.

  20. Jail and dismiss the cop for his dispicable crime. The kid needs to go free with an apology and a ‘we’re sorry’ gift. Yes, I know that won’t happen in America but it ought to be the standard.

  21. James Knauer: “Do police even know they have lost the respect of the populace?”

    Actually, James, as great a question as that is, the better one would be “Do they CARE?” From all the evidence I’ve seen, they do not, and THAT is the real problem.

  22. “The Riverside Sheriff’s office has brushed aside the public outcry over the case and said that it ‘followed all pertinent laws and the case was reviewed by the DA’s Office. Had there been entrapment issues, the DA’s Office would not have filed the case.’”

    This statement is almost certainly true. And, that’s the real problem.

  23. When I was young you were told to trust the police…
    … ‘Was’ is the operative word.

    Now, I’m older, wiser and less trusting of the police.

  24. Just disgusted by this. Suing cops who doesn’t work as any payment comes from the taxpayer. Discipline doesn’t work because it’s the police themselves deciding whether anything was wrong. The only solution to prevent big government from abusing its citizens and wasting their taxes is to END THE WAR ON DRUGS!

  25. Fifty years ago his diagnosis might have been less kind– without the bi polar baloney and the kid might have been locked up in a nuthouse to keep him from being preyed upon. When the cops do the abuse then we are in trouble.

  26. Looks like someone in a position of authority abused a mental disabled person. Time to go to jail copper.

  27. Many cops are lazy bureaucrats w/ guns. Bureaucrats only like easy assignments. So, let’s bust an autistic kid. I was just in Chicago and the AFSCME convention was there. I talked w/ a waiter in a nice restaurant we ate in last night. He said they are a loud, rude, demanding, shitty tipper group. Wait staff hate it when they come to town.

  28. You can always get a good read on people by how they treat the wait staff. If you’re on a date and he/she is rude and nasty to the wait staff, DUMP THEM, right on the spot.

  29. As Bob Dole famously said: “Where’s the outrage?”. Calling for punishment of cops, school districts etc. may make some here feel good about having condemned the perps, but unless and until JT’s base supporters join with the millions of informed citizens and LEOs who know that all of the devastating consequences of our drug laws will continue and even worsen (if that is possible) unless and until you call for legalizing drugs and all other victimless
    crimes…and to those who deny there are such things, why can’t you make a reasonably rational case for your view? Get yourself educated and learn how to THINK —doing so might be a new experience for you.

  30. Please actually WATCH the video and pay attention. For all those slamming the Riverside POLICE Department, you have the wrong city and police agency. This happened in Temecula, about 30 miles outside of Riverside and the Riverside PD’s jurisdiction. If you’re going to take a stand, at least refer your comments to the correct agency, so you don’t appear ignorant.

  31. I know I’m a broken record, but this is another in a long series of incidents that proves that no police should be trusted. But you say, “Hey, it’s only a few who do this kind of thing.” And that’s true. But what is the response from the “good” cops? Do we hear outrage over their fellow officers’ behavior? Do we hear them calling for these sadists to be rooted out, fired, or jailed? Nope. Either silence or out and out support.

  32. Almost nothing is worse than a sting at a school. A bust ruins a kids life forever. Cops tried this when I was in high school too. I believe my reply was very close to “go get your own damn dope”. Back then it was easy to spot the narc. It is very hard to raise a kid in todays world of distractions and just plain mean people. My hat is off to this kid’s Mom and Dad, best of luck to the family.

  33. This wasn’t one cop and one kid. 22 kids were arrested, most of whom were special ed kids. This wasn’t one bad cop. It was a policy for statistics that would get them more federal funds.

  34. bettykath, I like to accentuate the positive. We are in total agreement regarding the war on drugs. Cops do all sorts of hideous crap for stats. IMO, one of the worst is the “snitch out 2 friends and we’ll let you walk.” They will let one higher level bust walk for turning in 2 lower level busts. Isn’t it nice to agree? Well, it is for me.

  35. to bailers; a wake up. call it’s not a thousand years ago the violent holy war today is being fought by muslims against any who deny islam.anyways the boy has a legally defined mental illness what is the police and d.a’s excuse

  36. […] pick up in drug arrests. One of these people was an autistic, bipolar kid, Jesse Snodgrass. He was befriended by an undercover cop, who eventually persuaded him to buy a half joint from a homeless man and give […]

  37. […] is the outrage people should feel against the deadly & VERY expensive LOST war on some drugs. Undercover Officer Befriends Bipolar and Autistic Teen, Convinces Him To Buy Pot For Him, Then Arres… You'll like the moderator, but not the story he tells…near the end there is a ray of hope from a […]

  38. “deputy dan” is a sheriffs deputy. if you don’t like what deputy’s do, go after their boss, the sheriff. sheriff is an elected position, elect someone else. someone who will give deputy dan other duties. use your imagination on what those other duties might include.

  39. Who hires people that do this? Who hires people who hire people who do this? at some level, some f***ing politician is responsible, and he MUST be targeted for replacement.

  40. Evil cop probably entices the mentally diminished to engage in sexual activity for cash, and then charges them w/prostitution. This scumbag should spend time in general pop.

  41. All this outrage about the tactics that the Riverside Sheriff’s Department used in this case but Sheriff Stan Sniff was just reelected. Go figure.

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  43. This is as bad as the judges that were taking money to send kids to jail….and the cops & DA should be serving as much time as they took from innocent kids….like their whole lives….

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