The California cops who were caught on video raiding a marijuana dispensary earlier this year, dismantling security cameras before munching on pot edibles, are now claiming they were recorded illegally because they had an expectation of privacy.
After all, the Santa Ana cops claim, it is not their fault they overlooked a hidden camera when they dismantled the other cameras.
As a result, three of the cops were suspended and are being investigated by internal affairs, which usually means nothing, except in this case, the video went hugely viral.
So now investigators are expected to take some type of action against the cops, who were also recorded mocking a disabled woman.
However, the cops filed a lawsuit last week in an attempt to quash the video from being used as evidence against them – even though video footage is routinely used against suspects they arrest.
According to the Orange County Register:
After entering the building, police are seen dismantling video cameras inside the store.
After most of the cameras are taken down, a camera they didn’t detect shows the officers talking about a woman with an amputated left leg who at the time of the raid was in her wheelchair inside the dispensary.
“Did you punch that one-legged old Benita,” a male officer asks a female officer, apparently referring to the woman in the wheelchair.
“I was about to kick her in her (expletive) nub,” the female officer replies, according to subtitles with the video.
In another clip – which Pappas has titled “Officers eating edibles and playing darts” – a voice can be heard asking, “What flavor?” before an officer is seen unwrapping a small package and putting something in his mouth.
The lawsuit argues that the video doesn’t paint a fair version of events. The suit also claims the video shouldn’t be used as evidence because, among other things, the police didn’t know they were on camera.
“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 dispensary also did not obtain consent of any officer to record them, the suit says.
“Without the illegal recordings, there would have been no internal investigation of any officer,” the suit says.
The attorney for the cops, Corey W. Glave, accuses the pot shop of violating California’s eavesdropping law, which makes it illegal to secretly record people when they have an expectation of privacy.
But purposely dismantling the cameras during an active investigation should be a violation of California’s falsifying evidence law, which makes it illegal to destroy or conceal evidence that may be used in an investigation or trial.
That law is in the process of being amended to include video evidence in a bill that appears to still be pending. However, the pre-amended law did not specifically exclude video evidence. It just never mentioned it because it was written years ago before video evidence became so prevalent.
The owners of the shop have filed a lawsuit against the city, including police and Mayor Miguel Pulido, the latter who is accused of ordering the raid to benefit competing dispensaries, who had paid the city a $25,000 fee in order to operate.