- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2015

Surveillance video showing the police raid of a medical marijuana dispensary in California can be used by investigators, a judge has ruled, curbing law enforcement’s efforts to keep the video from being entered as evidence in the probe concerning the conduct of the officers involved in the operation.

Cameras inside the Sky High Collective pot dispensary in Santa Ana captured the raid as it unfolded on May 27 and were released the following month by the shop’s attorneys. Lawyers working with law enforcement have been fighting to keep the clip away from investigators, however, in light of an internal probe launched by the Santa Ana Police Department amidst allegations brought by the dispensary.

According to attorneys for the shop, the footage shows police officers consuming marijuana edibles during the raid and mocking a woman in a wheelchair, an amputee, but not until after they had disabled almost all of the surveillance cameras inside the premises.

Lawyers representing the unidentified cops seen in the clip have argued that the video is inadmissible since the police “had a reasonable expectation that their conversations were no longer being recorded,” but a judge has now ruled otherwise.

“While the officers have declared that they expected privacy, the court has concluded that they had no objectively reasonable expectation that their words and actions would not be observed,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald Bauer wrote in a three-page ruling on Wednesday.

“[The officers] should not expect privacy in their on-duty performance of an official function at a marijuana dispensary,” Judge Bauer opined. “They have made no claim that their work required secrecy or that it would be impeded by public view.”

Matthew Pappas, an attorney for Sky High, told the O.C. Register that the court’s ruling means that cops “can’t hide behind these types of laws to prevent themselves from being held accountable for their behavior.”

“This ruling shows that the court had the courage to say ‘no’ to a very powerful police officer union and stand up for the rights of people when bad things like this happen,” he added to The Huffington Post.

Notwithstanding the outcome of the internal investigation, Sky High has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the Santa Ana Police Department in which the dispensary accuses the officers of excessive force and theft of marijuana, cannabis-infused edibles and thousands of dollars in cash, HuffPo reported.

Attorneys for the officers and the union, the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, did not immediately respond to requests for comments from news outlets this week.

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