An attorney representing a medical marijuana dispensary’s volunteer manager on Friday afternoon said new video had been uncovered that showed "definitively" that Santa Ana police officers were eating pot-laced "edibles" during a May 26 raid.
The new video was discussed about three weeks after attorney Matthew Pappas first released heavily edited hidden-camera video appearing to show officers consuming pot products during a raid of Sky High Holistic.
"One of them talks about the candy bar, the edible, and says he's starting to get light-headed. That would indicate to me that they're eating marijuana edibles. They're sitting right near a safe ... where the edibles are located," Pappas said Friday.
The attorney spoke at a news conference at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles that included a hodge-podge of speakers addressing a variety of pot-related issues and situations.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office was investigating the Santa Ana raid, lawyer Anthony Curiale said at the news conference. Curiale is representing clients planning to sue over the raid.
Pappas’ client, Marla James, is a disabled, amputee patient who was volunteering as manager of the Sky High Holistic on the day of the Santa Ana Police Department raid. A Colorado cannabis oil company bought James a new electric wheelchair after seeing the video of the raid, according to a news release announcing Friday's news conference.
The Santa Ana Police Department was conducting an internal investigation in response to the video, a commander with the department said upon the video's release last month.
On Friday, police Chief Carlos Rojas said the department was still waiting to see the full video.
"At this point in our investigation, we have evidence contrary to what Mr. Pappas is putting out. So that’s why we would like to see a full copy of the tape, to see if we can reconcile some of the contradictions that are being put out there," Rojas said.
There would be "no legitimate reason" for an officer to taste a marijuana edible, Rojas said.
"The behavior, of course, is of concern. We want to get to the facts," Rojas said. "We expect our officers to handle themselves professionally and with integrity at all times. We’re going to hold people accountable if it turns out somebody either committed a crime or was in violation of policy."
Pappas said he had given the raw videos to the Santa Ana City Attorney's Office last month, and that City Attorney Sonia Carvalho had confirmed their receipt.
The full video was shown to the OC Weekly earlier this week, and the alternative newspaper reported it showed multiple officers consuming edibles taken from a safe. It also showed an officer discussing a past instance of drinking beer in cups on a drive to Staples Center with the Orange County Superior Court judge who granted the search warrant for the raid, the OC Weekly reported.
At the time of the raid, no dispensaries in Santa Ana had valid permits to operate, according to police. A judge's injunction had prevented implementation of a voter-approved lottery system that Santa Ana created to give 20 permits to pot shops, but that injunction was lifted last month, according to the OC Register.
Pappas on June 15 filed a federal lawsuit over the raid of Sky High in connection with the lottery system, alleging elected officials in the city solicited bribes from lottery applicants. Among other allegations, the lawsuit claims police used excessive force during the Sky High raid.
The news release for the news conference stated Pappas planned to release “evidence of political corruption” in a connection with the lottery, which did not result in a permit for Sky High Holistic.
A multimillion-dollar state claim for damages on behalf of patients "attacked" during April and May raids in Santa Ana was set to be filed within two weeks, Curiale said. He described unnecessary destruction of property during the raid.
"The conduct of the police officers was despicable," Curiale said. "The conduct stems from a culture of arrogance. It's cultivated by a perceived immunity."
Retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief Stephen Downing, who has called for drug legalization, spoke alongside Pappas.
"Our war on drugs is a complete failure," Downing said. "The Santa Ana raid is a perfect microcosm as to what has happened across this country in terms of the corrupting influence of this drug war."
Beverly Hills-based Cheryl Shuman, the self-described “Martha Stewart of Marijuana," was also at the news conference. She contrasted the raids in Southern California to the situation in Colorado, where recreational use and sale marijuana was made legal -- and taxable -- last year.
"There are still people going to jail for this. It's insane," Shuman said.