Santa Ana Police File Lawsuit Alleging Violation of Their Rights After Store Videotape Allegedly Catches Them Eating Marijuana Products And Disparaging Disabled Woman

nsjjps-b88477454z.120150803213939000gt7b82gh.10There 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

101 thoughts on “Santa Ana Police File Lawsuit Alleging Violation of Their Rights After Store Videotape Allegedly Catches Them Eating Marijuana Products And Disparaging Disabled Woman”

  1. Pardon my ignorance here (I am not a lawyer), but on what basis would the police be able to claim that they have a reasonable expectation to privacy on someone else’s private property? Is there a specific law that addresses this for police?

  2. Olly

    Americans in general seem to have a love/hate relationship with the central or Federal Government. At times it is the government with the ultimate power that is wrong in allowing these travesties to continue. The furthest away, they are the easiest to blame. However, when the central government acts they are attacked by the satellite governments be they state, municipal, or Billy Bob and his arsenal. These hypocritical and deplorable acts by the Santa Anna police dept., followed by their pretzel defense, as well as much of the rest of the transgressions committed by local municipal and state governments in the US are a result of Americans demanding local government authority over central government authority.

    This ‘don’t tread on me’ stance of local authorities is unique to the US and in this case it is the local cloistering of these actions that is the greatest travesty. Hopefully someday there will be actions taken by the Federal Government to roll in and take over police forces that are sorely wanting in ethics and morality. However, for the moment, the power remains with the local police department, their union, and the blue line that seems to permit these activities to continue.

    If this was only happening due to a specific President and the transitioning of the illegality of pot to legal through medicinal purposes and the toe to toe between the local and Federal powers then there would be some, however weak, credibility in some of what is posed here. However, this is indicative of a specific manner in which Americans wish to see themselves governed. If you want, ‘your local sheriff’, and you want the office shielded from Federal oversight, then this sort of nonsense is what comes with that authority.

    Hollywood routinely makes movies about local rogue police forces. Or, you can read about it here, and here, and here…….

  3. This looks like many other laudable government employment schemes, a circular process by which the Current Victim and the police and courts and legislature dig many holes and then fill them back in.
    Although the end result is a bit ridiculous (especially when watched on tape), and nothing in fact is accomplished, the main point is that everyone got paid.

    Well, except for the poor schlub footing the bill.
    But we hate him so all’s well.

  4. isaac,
    Of course it happened before, it’s happening right now and it will happen in the future UNLESS the People rise up and demand ALL of our public officials be held to the RULE OF LAW. How far back to you want to REGRESS in your prosecution efforts? Bush 2, Truman, T. Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington? Make a case, but while you’re busy chasing the foxes that got away, do not forget those still in the hen house.

  5. Olly

    That’s right, none of this ever happened before Obama became President. You and Trump should get a long great, pushed off into the cartoon pages.

  6. “If illegal activities by ‘GOVERNMENT’ are continually covered up and excused by the public, we won’t see any improvement in the behavior of ‘GOVERNMENT.’ Why do some think our ‘GOVERNMENT’ can be above the law? Why is there such a degree of tolerance for bad ‘GOVERNMENT’?

  7. Nick Spinelli
    1, August 6, 2015 at 10:29 am
    The macro issue is how the Obama Administration …

  8. “The point here is not the pot issue, it is the double standard, above and untouchable by the law, the admissibility of a defense based on nonsense issue.”

    For someone that routinely finds NO STANDARDS to which this President, his administration, the Democratic party or progressive liberalism in general are to be held to account; that is beyond laughable!

  9. Clearly it’s a full blown case of Obama Derangment Syndrome. OBD.

    If illegal activities by police are continually covered up and excused by the public, we won’t see any improvement in the behavior of rogue cops. Why do some think our officers of the law can be above the law? Why is there such a degree of tolerance for bad cops?

  10. Nick and Feyd

    The point here is not the pot issue, it is the double standard, above and untouchable by the law, the admissibility of a defense based on nonsense issue. If that was a spanking, then that only serves to illustrate how off the mark you two are. That was more like a one handed clap. Cops breaking the law is the issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, unless of course one is a rabid Obama hater and routinely posts derogatory remarks concerning anything and everything regardless of the issue. Consider yourself educated or reread the post.

    1. issac – there is an old saying “fish stink from the head down.” Obama is the lawless leader of the country. Since he is getting away with it, why shouldn’t everyone else. There is another old saying “Lead, and we shall but follow.” Where has Obama led us?

  11. The disabled person would make the best plaintiff against the cops and the municipality. The cops illegally disabled video cameras. That could be a civil claim against them as well. Take their depositions in the civil case against them and ask if they ate anything while there on duty. If they say no then the tapes show not only that they ate pot but that they are liars. There is a conspiracy claim here and the police union can be a defendant in that claim.
    In relation to a motion to dismiss the police union case the defendants should post the video in the Santa Ana television stations and ask for any witnesses to come forward to testify who might know something relevant about the individuals depicted. A counter claim on the police union lawsuit will be warranted.
    Municipal liability. The town is liable if the actions were part of public policy. Closely examine the suit filed by the police union and see if they allege that the video violated some muni policy or ordinance. Depose the cops who disabled the video cameras to see where they had authority to do so. If they say they had city ordinance or rule in mind then the muni is liable for any civil rights event which transpired.
    Sue each cop individually and in their official capacity as muni police officers and their violations of civil rights of the plaintiffs.
    Defaming the crippled person is a threat and violated her civil rights. It is an assault not a battery, until they touch her.
    Punitive damages. A big judgment for puns will perhaps give some guidance to the police union in the future. Suits filed in the South against cops, towns and the Klan could be instructive. When birds of a feather act together they are all liable.

  12. I agree with “Judge Mickey” on this one… These guys should be prosecuted to the fullest extent by a judge like “Judge Mickey,” and then placed Under the jail, rather than in it>

  13. Transparency to protect the public trust. If they are in any type of policing action then it all should be recorded. 18 USC § 2511 (2)(d). The officers have no privacy rights during raids or acts accusing another person of wrong doing. This is evidence just like the body cams they want to wear.
    It does not work only in one direction [Brady vs Maryland] violation if not used to present unbiased view of events. No privacy is enacted by being in a public place.

    1. Robert Rex Edwards – now if they had taken the brownies to the restroom, then there would have been an expectation of privacy, right?

  14. The “War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure in curtailing the manufacture, distribution, and sale of illegal narcotics but has been a major success in nullifying our constitutional rights.

  15. @ Nick

    The statement: “A judge admitted the video because although it was a members only club, anyone could be a member or simply get a guest pass, which is what I did. And, you are in public.”

    Doesn’t that statement negate the argument?

    “In Washington or Colorado I think you would be correct. Those cannabis outlets are open to the public. However, in California, you must be a member of the cannabis co-op.”

    Or am I missing something?

  16. I was a shop steward for many years, and if any of our workers had done any one thing as bad as these crooked cops, they would have been fired on the spot. So it is outrageous that they are still employed. They should be fired immediately charged with perjury, obstruction of justice, using controlled substances on the job, theft, and is short should face at least 20 to 30 years in prison.

  17. Isaac, Until you do your homework on Operation Choke Point, I will not engage you in discussion. Do your homework.

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