There is an interesting case out of Santa Ana this month where police officers were allegedly caught on camera wolfing down pot products in a raid on a medical marijuana dispensary. The officer reportedly disabled all but one of the security cameras. They are now arguing that there rights were violated by being videotaped without their consent.
The video below shows a sizable number of police raiding the dispensary with guns drawn and forcing everyone to the floor. It then shows officers methodically shutting off cameras. The remaining camera however then shows the officers eating presumably marijuana laced products at the Sky High Collective. The video also shows the officers making derogatory comments about a disabled woman.
Three Santa Ana police officers have sued to quash a surveillance video
in a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court to prevent Santa Ana Police Department internal affairs investigators from using the video. They have been allowed to conceal their identities. Of course, police routinely used such videotapes against others for alleging crimes. It is also unclear why a public servant should have his or her name protected in such a case. While some officers may be undercover and have a good claim, most of these officers are in uniform.
Attorney Corey W. Glave representing the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and the three officers insists that the video was taken without the officers’ knowledge and that the videotape was handled by various people before being turned over to the police. He has suggested that the videotape may have been altered. Glave has gone as far as to accuse his opposing counsel of misconduct: “The attorney representing the drug dispensary intentionally has misrepresented what happened.”
Matthew Pappas is the lawyer for Sky High identified in articles. Pappas has said that he gave the Santa Ana police two versions of the raid footage, a highlight reel with subtitles and unedited video clips.
One question that we have previously discussed is why police routinely dismantled such cameras to prevent a videotape record of arrests or searches. One argument may be that undercover officers were involved and should not be videotaped for their own protection.
What the remaining camera did catch as a male officer asking a female colleague about a woman with an amputated left leg: “Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?” he asks. The female officer responds “I was about to kick her in her (expletive) nub.”
The lawsuit says that the officers are the victims: “All police personnel present had a reasonable expectation that their conversations were no longer being recorded and the undercover officers, feeling that they were safe to do so, removed their masks.”
The lawsuit further notes that “Without the illegal recordings, there would have been no internal investigation of any officer.”
No officers have been terminated in connection with the ongoing internal affairs investigation