Did cop sneak a pot treat?

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Veron­ica Rocha veron­ica.rocha @la­times.com Twit­ter: @Veron­i­caRochaLA

A video that ap­pears to show a Santa Ana po­lice of­fi­cer eat­ing a mar­i­juana-laced ed­i­ble af­ter a raid on a pot shop has prompted a po­lice depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The video shows at least half a dozen of­fi­cers en­ter­ing the Sky High Holis­tic dis­pen­sary May 26 with guns drawn, forc­ing cus­tomers to the ground. The footage was re­leased this week by an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the manager of the dis­pen­sary.

Po­lice can be seen on the video re­mov­ing se­cu­rity cam­eras and play­ing darts. One of the of­fi­cers is shown ex­am­in­ing what looks like an ed­i­ble be­fore toss­ing it into his mouth and flash­ing a thumbs-up.

Marla James, the dis­pen­sary’s pa­tient manager for the day, said she’s not cer­tain the of­fi­cer ate a pot­laced treat, but that it looked a lot like a 420 bar or a Bhang Choco­late bar — a po­tent mar­i­juana sweet. The of­fi­cer, she said, had left the dis­pen­sary’s edi­bles room, which is stocked with mar­i­juana-in­fused treats.

If any of the of­fi­cers are found to have con­sumed mar­i­juana or oth­er­wise to have acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately, they could be dis­ci­plined or ter­mi­nated.

James, a legally blind am­putee who uses a wheel­chair, ac­cused the po­lice of caus­ing $180,000 worth of dam­age to the dis­pen­sary dur­ing the raid.

The video shows one of the of­fi­cers ask­ing a fe­male col­league, “Did you punch that one-legged guerita?”

The of­fi­cer replies, “I was about to kick her in her ... nub.”

James, a vo­cal med­i­cal mar­i­juana pa­tient ac­tivist, said she was forced to sign off on a mis­de­meanor ci­ta­tion for op­er­at­ing a dis­pen­sary, even though she told the same fe­male of­fi­cer she couldn’t read the ticket.

“It makes me re­ally sad be­cause I have al­ways re­spected the po­lice,” she said. “What was done to me shouldn’t be done to any­body else.”

The raid was part of a search war­rant ob­tained by Santa Ana po­lice, who were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary for op­er­at­ing il­le­gally in the city, Po­lice Chief Car­los Ro­jas said. James said the mar­i­juana was op­er­at­ing legally and would re­main open.

But Ro­jas said the dis­pen­sary was not per­mit­ted and that a cease-and-de­sist or­der had been sent.

Po­lice haven’t seen the full, unedited video but have re­quested a copy. The video came from a hid­den cam­era in the dis­pen­sary.

The edited video, Ro­jas said, raises con­cern. “Our ex­pec­ta­tion for of­fi­cers is that they act pro­fes­sion­ally at all time,” he said.

Ro­jas said he has pushed for a rapid in­ter­nal af­fairs in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If any wrong­do­ing oc­curred, the of­fi­cers will be held accountable, he said. But so far, he said “it doesn’t ap­pear to be what peo­ple are as­sum­ing it is.”

“I don’t think it’s fair to the of­fi­cers to in­dict them based on an edited video,” he said.

Ro­jas said it’s not un­com­mon for of­fi­cers to eat their own snacks while they are at the scene of a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Still, he said the of­fi­cers would be tested for drugs.

“We will en­sure that all in­ves­tiga­tive pro­to­cols are fol­lowed to en­sure that no of­fi­cer in­gested any mar­i­juana,” he said.

James said she plans to file a fed­eral law­suit next week.

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