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California police attempted to destroy all of the surveillance cameras during a recent raid at a medical marijuana dispensary, but footage has surfaced suggesting the officers missed at least one hidden camera — a mistake they now likely regret. The video shows questionable behavior that has triggered an internal affairs investigation at their department.
The surveillance video shows cops from Santa Ana, California, barging into an establishment called the Sky High Collective on May 27. In addition to showing the officers attempting to destroy the surveillance equipment, the hidden camera caught the officers joking about kicking an amputee in the "nub" of her missing leg, playing darts while searching the premises, and possibly eating candy laced with pot. Santa Ana's police chief has said the department is investigating the incident.
The footage, edited by attorney Matthew Pappas, opens with the police struggling to kick open the doors of the dispensary. When they enter the shop, the cops order everyone inside to get on the ground. Once the room is cleared, police joke about kicking leg amputee Marla James, who is in a motorized wheelchair. According to OC Weekly, James, who is a marijuana activist, was told that the shop was going to be raided and came to watch.
One police officer asks, "Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?" His female colleague then responds: "I was about to kick her in her fucking nub."
"When I saw the video it almost made me cry," James told the CBS Los Angeles. "She doesn't know what it's like to not have a leg. I still have phantom pains." James reportedly plans to sue the city over the incident.
In another video from the same raid, officers wearing ski masks are shown attempting to destroy surveillance equipment, with an officer using a crowbar to take out several cameras and a DVR machine.
The footage also shows that at least two officers eating something from the dispensary. It's unclear whether the snack is a piece of pot-laced candy, but their behavior is suspicious. One of the officers can be heard laughing and saying, "What flavor?"
"Definitely there's behavior, conduct I'm concerned about," Police Chief Carlos Rojas told Voice of OC this week.
Rojas emphasized however, that since there are several edits, he is not sure if certain scenes were taken out of context, or if the officers were actually eating marijuana-laced treats. "I don't know if that's [a marijuana] edible. Where did [the officer] get it?" Rojas said. "Is that a protein bar or an edible?" The department has requested a full version of the video footage.
"We expect our officers to hold themselves to a certain standard and represent the department and the profession well," Santa Ana police commander Chris Revere told KABC. "If that wasn't done in this case, it's certainly something that, as part of the administrative investigation, the chief will make the appropriate disciplinary recommendation if it's warranted."
California has legalized medical marijuana, but has yet to approve the drug for recreational use. The Sky High Collective was reportedly operating without a license, a regulatory issue that has led to many similar raids and arrests in Santa Ana. In February, the city issued licenses via a lottery to operate legally-run marijuana shops, but only in two industrial areas. The city received 600 applications for only 20 licenses.