- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Police officers in California are in hot water for their actions during a recent medical marijuana dispensary raid.

An internal affairs probe could become problematic, however, if a lawsuit is successful in keeping surveillance footage from being used against the officers.

Lawyers for the Sky High Collective in Santa Ana, Calif. say that video from the May 2015 raid captured police officers joking about kicking an amputee in her “[expletive] nub” and snacking on what appears to be marijuana edibles.

The Santa Ana Police Department’s internal affairs division began investigating the incident after Sky High’s attorneys produced footage from the raid. Three unidentified law enforcement officials and the city’s police union want to quash the clip, though, and are asking the Orange County Superior Court to keep the video from being used in the probe.

According to their lawsuit filed last week, the footage should be inadmissible as evidence because the officers didn’t realize they were being recorded on the dispensaries surveillance cameras.

“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,” says the suit.

The suit alleges that the attorney for Sky High intentionally misrepresented what happened during the raid by improperly handling the video prior to its release, the OC Register reported.

“Without the illegal recordings, there would have been no internal investigation of any officer,” the suit says.

“It’s pretty pathetic for police to say if we don’t like something that it can’t be used as evidence,” Matthew Pappas, a lawyer for Sky High, told the paper.

“I believe they are consuming edibles and the behavior exhibited gives every indication that’s what they’d be doing,” he told Voice of OC.

According to Pappas, the surveillance clip shows one officer inquiring about the flavor of a marijuana edible and a female officer speaking disparagingly about a one-legged patient.

“I treated that woman with respect and I have no idea why she wanted to kick my stump,” the patient, marijuana activist Marla James, told OC Weekly.

“When I saw the video it almost made me cry,” she said. “She doesn’t know what it’s like to not have a leg. I still have phantom pains.”

Authorities say Sky High was operating without the proper business license at the time of the raid.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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