Our story kicks off today in the bright and sunny land they call California. Although medical marijuana has been legal for almost 20 years now, a few police officers in the beautiful City of Santa Ana decided that their small town of just slightly more than 300k had too many pot dispensaries. On this fateful day, a motley band of police, some undercover, some in body armor, and even a motorcycle cop thrown in for good measure, kicked down the front door and stormed in, guns drawn. Mind you, this business was on the main street. It wasn't some back-alley shady place. And it was licensed, for the most part. There was a minor misdemeanor licensing offense, and on the face of it, this should have been a civil court issue, but not today. So back to our heroes and in come the police kicking down doors with guns pointed everywhere. The customers were frightened and fell to the floor. Of course, they had not done anything wrong, so why should they worry? They were escorted out and the police immediately begin to dismantle and destroy the camera security system. Of course, they missed a few and that, dear listeners, is how we know what happened next.
After the police thought they had removed or even broken all of the security cameras, they immediately began to get to work — cataloging and bagging and boxing things that were in the store. While they were doing this, they were talking about what had just gone down when the Sergeant, which was in the person in charge and who also happened to be female, was overhead responding to a question by her subordinate when she said — "…that she wanted to kick Marla James — a marijuana activist and wheelchair-bound amputee who was present during the raid — in her "nub." This of course, is a derogatory term for the remaining portion of the woman’s leg. But it doesn't stop there. When the video went viral, the OCweekly wrote — "Marla James struggled to understand why the female officer in the video would make fun of her disability. Marla was quoted as saying — "You know what, I was really nice to that woman. I even complimented her on her hair. I treated that woman with respect and I have no idea why she wanted to kick my stump." But our tale doesn't stop here.
After a while, the police seem to become bored and one of them wanders over to a safe. In the video, he notices several products and picks one up and eats it. He appears to like whatever it was in his hand and takes it into the other room, where he proceeds to pass it on to another guy. In fact, as OCweekly reports –“the video shows that there were at least four officers eating marijuana edibles”. So, now the police, which are still on the job, are on their way to becoming high. But the story doesn't end there.
So, while they are still working, one guy apparently feels comfortable enough to tell stories, and his audio was caught on tape. He starts off by asking if the other guy knew the judge that had just signed the warrant that they were serving. The police man goes on to note that he is good friends with the judge, and then tells a story about how they bought beers at a gas station and then were drinking and driving. After a while, the group of police get bored and begin to play darts before one of them notice some guys from the fire department arriving. Giving a warning call to the others, he shouts out — "Fire department, watch your mouths!" Then the guy from the Fire dept. walks in, looks at them and is heard saying- "Ya'll hungry yet? We got pizza on the way". Now, dear listeners, if you thought that was the wrap-up to a Cheech and Chong sketch, you would be wrong. We have several more twists to add to this story.
The video was released by the shopkeeper to the local press, which was then forwarded on to internal affairs. You know, the police watching the police. Fast forward a week or two and the OCregister is now reporting that a lawsuit was just filed in Orange County Superior Court by 3 police officers and the Santa Ana Police Officers Association. That lawsuit is seeking to prevent the Santa Ana Police Department internal affairs investigators from using the video! Apparently, the lawyers representing the police — "…disagree about the video’s accuracy and authenticity". Don't laugh, it gets even better.
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. The suit specifically notes — “All police personnel present had a reasonable expectation that their conversations were no longer being recorded…”. The suit also goes on to say that the dispensary also did not obtain consent of any officer to record them. You know, the same people they escorted out at gunpoint earlier in the video. Matthew Pappas, a lawyer for the dispensary that was raided, pointed to the irony of police seeking to shoot down the use of video as evidence in an investigation when they routinely use audio and videos to investigate other crimes. Pappas said-“It’s pretty pathetic for police to say if we don’t like something than it can’t be used as evidence”. But! There is a final wrinkle to this story.
The Atlantic notes that — "…the most galling of all is the fact that this tactic is going to work temporarily. A Superior Court judge indicated Tuesday that he plans to issue a temporary restraining order that would prevent internal affairs from using the video in their investigation".
And that, dear listeners, is America today. The powers that be do what they want, when they want and rules are for the little guy. From the banks that were too big to fail, to Pelosi famously saying — “We have to pass the Obamacare bill to find out what’s inside” to the hidden legislation of the TPP, it is all the same.
In the case of the Santa Ana police, it didn't matter if the incident was recorded or not. It doesn't matter if the very people that are sworn to uphold the law break it several many times on video — threatening to assault a crippled woman in a wheelchair, shoplifting, getting high on the job, theft from the taxpayer and the list goes on. It doesn't matter at all because if they get caught, the money will flow, the lawyers will step in and the entire thing will be memory holed.
Of course, there is the other the big question, did they drive to work? and if so, did they intend to drive home under the influence?
So what do you think dear listeners, "Are the police in America above the law?"