A California police department has launched an internal affairs investigation into the actions of a group of officers who raided an Orange County marijuana dispensary in May and whose actions after the raid were captured by video cameras hidden in the store.
The raid on Sky High Holistic, a dispensary operating without a business permit, occurred May 27 in Santa Ana, KTLA News reports.
The officers’ actions were recorded by the store’s regular surveillance cameras as well as hidden cameras that were set up in anticipation of the raid.
The heavily edited video (shown below), released to news agencies by attorney Matthew Pappas, appears to show officers joking about one patron of the store with an amputated leg, eating marijuana-laced “edibles,” and playing darts.
The woman seen in the video with the amputated leg is Marla James, a local medical marijuana activist and a client of Pappas’. She told the OC Weekly she was in the store the day of the raid because Pappas had been tipped off that the store was going to be raided.
In the released video, a female officer can be seen wheeling James out of the store after police had burst through the doors and ordered the patrons and staff down on the ground.
Later in the video a male officer can be seen and heard addressing the female officer.
“Did you punch that one-legged old Benita,” he asks.
The female officer responds, “I was about to kick her in her f****** nub.”
Officers, some of them masked, are then seen in the video removing surveillance cameras and recording devices.
The next scenes show officers eating some of the presumably marijuana-laced edibles, playing darts and joking around in the store.
James told the Weekly she had no idea why the female officer would talk about her the way she did.
“You know what, I was really nice to that woman,” she said. “I even complimented her on her hair. I treated that woman with respect and I have no idea why she wanted to kick my stump.”
Pappas and James, who both say they would like to see the city sort out a permitting process for marijuana dispensaries, told KTLA they are planing to file a lawsuit against the city, alleging gross mistreatment by officers during the raid.
“I’d like to see the police officers disciplined for the behavior that goes on here. I’d like to see the city stop engaging in illegal conduct,” Pappas said.
Santa Ana Police Cmdr. Chris Revere told the Weekly he has seen Pappas’ released video but but called the footage “edited” and “non-chronological.”
“Obviously we are concerned with what we see on the video,” he said. “We have initiated an internal affairs investigation. I'd like to see the unedited video to get a clearer picture of what is happening.”
Revere declined to comment further on the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.
Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube