Last May, a video of Santa Ana, California police officers raiding an unlicensed pot dispensary went viral. The video clearly showed the cops snacking on something—and many assumed it must be some of the edibles sold in the store. The same video also shows the police smashing surveillance cameras, insulting a woman in a wheelchair, and playing a game of darts at the site of the raid.
Now, ten months later, the Orange County District Attorney's Office has finally brought charges against officers Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas, and Jorge Arroyo. But here's the thing: The officers are charged with eating power bars and cookies, said to be found in the employee snack room of the dispensary—not edibles. This crime amounts to a mere misdemeanor. One officer has also been charged with the misdemeanor of breaking the lens of a surveillance camera. All three remain on paid leave.
In short, the DA says—despite what everyone thought they saw on the viral video—there were no edibles eaten. The Orange County prosecutors say they are sure about this because they investigated the situation for a full ten months, reviewing all unedited surveillance videos of the May 26, 2015 raid of Sky High Holistic.
The video, which has been viewed more than a million times, shows the police officers in full raid mode, breaking through the dispensary's front door with what looks like battering rams and ordering the half-dozen or so customers and employees inside to get to the ground. The cops are armed and many are wearing masks.
The surveillance video includes several controversial segments. In one, a male officer asks a female officer, "Did you punch that one-legged old bonita?" Apparently, he was referring to Marla James, an amputee who volunteered at the dispensary and is confined to a wheelchair. She can be seen in parts of the surveillance video. "I was about to kick her in her fucking nub," a female officer replies, laughing. One officer is also seen smashing the lenses of several video cameras by banging them against a counter and dismantling a DVR. Then, several officers play a game of darts using the dispensary's dart board.
But what really got the video going viral is the part where officers can be seen snacking on something. At one point an officer intently examines the wrapper. What exactly was is it that they found there and ate? Was it really just energy bars, or could it have been the dispensary's weed goodies?
Prosecutors insist the answer to that question is no. According to The Orange County Register, the DA declined to say whether the officers were tested for marijuana.
Will we ever really know what those officers were eating at the dispensary? The officers will be arraigned on April 11. Maybe we'll learn more when the case finally goes to court.