During a police raid on an unpermitted pot shop in Santa Ana late last month, hidden cameras caught officers eating marijuana-laced “edibles," playing darts and displaying other questionable behavior, according to an attorney who plans to sue the city in connection with the raid.
The incident occurred at Sky High Holistic, a medical marijuana dispensary operating without a business permit, officials with the Santa Ana Police Department confirmed. The raid, at 419 W. 17th St., was one of several such recent operations, police said.
Video of the raid was taken by the regular surveillance cameras the shop had in place, as well as a hidden one set up in anticipation of a police visit.
The footage shows at least eight officers busting into the dispensary, guns drawn, shouting “everybody on the ground” to customers and workers.
“I was about to kick her in her f---ing nub,” a female officer later says of a customer with an amputated leg in a wheelchair.
The officers proceed to remove surveillance cameras mounted on the ceiling, the video shows.
Then, they appear to be smelling the merchandise and discussing the flavor of the edibles, to laughter. Multiple officers appear to break off pieces of the food and consume them. Several other officers play darts.
The video was edited and released to news media by Long Beach-based attorney Matthew Pappas. He plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of Marla James, the patient with the amputated leg, alleging gross mistreatment by officers during the raid.
“I’d like to see the police officers disciplined for the behavior that goes on here. I’d like to see the city stop engaging in illegal conduct,” Pappas said.
The Police Department is conducting an internal investigation in response to the video, according to police Cmdr. Chris Revere.
“We’re obviously concerned about the conduct that we saw in the edited video,” Revere said. “We’re also concerned that the video was heavily edited. We’d like to see the original video in its unedited version.”
Revere said he "couldn't say for certain" the officers were consuming pot edibles in the video.
Pappas and James, want to see reform — and a more fair system for allowing pot shops in Santa Ana. A judge recently issued a temporary restraining order preventing the city from implementing a voter-approved lottery system designed to distribute 20 permits for cannabis collectives, according to the OC Weekly.
Sky High was not one of the 20 dispensaries that were granted permits to operate in February. The shop operated nonetheless, and its owners expected it to be raided.
Revere said no dispensaries in the city are currently operating "legitimately."
"If the temporary restraining order is lifted, the city can then begin issuing permits for legal dispensaries to operate," the police commander said in an email.
James said dispensaries have no choice but to operate illegally, without a functioning permit system. She said she was the "patient manager" in the day that the raid occurred.
She criticized officers for how she was treated.
“They intimidated me. They threatened me, and then they let us go,” James, 54, said. “What they did, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.”
Pappas ran unsuccessfully for Long Beach city attorney last year. He regularly represents medical marijuana patients, according to the 2013 profile in the Orange County Register.