- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Santa Ana, California, marijuana dispensary will receive $100,000 from the city to settle a federal lawsuit filed in response to a 2015 raid that led to the suspension of three local police officers, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday.

The dispensary, Sky High Holistic, sued the city for police harassment after the pot shop’s surveillance cameras captured members of the Santa Ana Police Department snacking on marijuana-laced edibles and making crude remarks about a handicapped woman during the course of a May 26, 2015, raid.

Sky High claimed the raid was the culmination of a plan formulated by the city aimed at putting the pot shop out of business after it declined to participate in a 2014 lottery that awarded marijuana permits to 20 dispensaries. Sky High wasn’t involved in the lottery process, and was subsequently shutdown for operating without a permit.

In the aftermath, however, the dispensary’s decision to release surveillance footage of the raid caused the clip to go viral and resulted in charges being filed against several of the officers involved.

According to the complaint, “officers were intentionally destructive and destroyed video surveillance equipment, safes, furniture, fixtures, doors and other property” during the raid, resulting in damages “in excess of $100,000” and the arrest of a dozen people inside the dispensary at the time.

Three of the cops were charged with misdemeanor petty theft and one with vandalism after footage of the raid was released. All have since parted ways with the city’s police department and are scheduled to appear in court next month, the Orange County Register reported.

In the meantime, city officials said they’ll pay a six-figure settlement to Sky High and drop charges against the 12 individuals charged as a result of the raid “in the interests of justice.”

The sum will go toward two volunteers affected by last year’s raid as well as a nearby doctor whose office lost power and water during the raid, an attorney for the dispensary told the Orange County Register.

“The settlement of civil rights claims and dismissal of criminal actions shows Santa Ana is taking responsibility for improper actions it took, including the raid of Sky High Holistic, in support of its lottery-based marijuana regulation ordinance,” the lawyer, Matthew Pappas, told the Register in an email Tuesday.

One of the volunteers affected by the raid, an amputee named Marla James, was allegedly mocked by police during the incident, according to surveillance footage. In the tape, one officer allegedly said he wanted to kick the wheelchair-confined woman “in her nub.”

“I’m very happy that it’s finished,” Ms. James told OC Weekly with respect to the settlement. “The police officers that were mean to me no longer work there, and that’s good.”

Santa Ana Deputy City Manager Roberto Cortez declined to comment when contacted by the Orange County Register about the settlement, the newspaper reported. Mr. Pappas, the dispensary’s attorney, said a separate legal matter is still pending in Orange County Superior Court concerning the return of money and items seized during the raid.

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