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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. “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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. ” 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

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