A group of Santa Ana police officers are now going to have a tougher time proving to investigators that they are not the corrupt scum the entire nation now believes them to be.
On Wednesday, an Orange County Superior Court judge decided that a surveillance video from the Sky High medical marijuana dispensary, which captured a number of police officers eating pot edibles and poking fun at a disabled patient during a raid, does not violate California’s eavesdropping law and should be allowed into evidence.
Earlier last month, High Times reported that several Santa Ana cops, who have refused to be identified, filed a lawsuit in an Orange County court in an attempt to prevent the controversial, and highly publicized video from being used against them in an internal investigation.
The suit claimed that because officers were not aware that they were being recorded, believing at the time that they had disabled all the dispensary’s surveillance equipment, that the video was a violation to their privacy rights and, therefore, should be considered inadmissible as evidence.
However, Judge Ronald Bauer declined this argument, ruling that police “had no objectively reasonable expectation that their words and actions would not be observed.”
“[Cops] should not expect privacy in their on-duty performance of an official function at a marijuana dispensary,” Judge Bauer explained. “They have made no claim that their work required secrecy or that it would be impeded by public review.”
California’s eavesdropping law dictates that all parties must be aware of a recording, except in “public places” or in “circumstances where the participants of the conversation could reasonably expect to be overheard or recorded.” Like in a medical marijuana dispensary, for example.
Not surprisingly, representatives for the Santa Ana Police Department have refused to comment on what this ruling means for the continued employment of their fellow brethren. But it goes without saying that the video evidence could toss a pretty stiff wrench in their defense.
Attorney Matthew Pappas, who is representing Sky High in this matter, said the judge’s ruling was an important step towards holding these officers accountable for their dastardly actions. “They can’t hide behind these types of laws to prevent themselves from being held accountable for their behavior,” Pappas told the Orange County Register.
The surveillance footage, which made its way last month to almost every major news outlet in America, shows officers acting out in an extremely unprofessional manner; eating marijuana edibles, playing darts, and making fun of an amputee who was there at the time of the bust. A female cop even makes mention of wanting to lay hands on the disabled woman, saying that she was “about to kick her in the fucking nub.”
A federal lawsuit has since been filed against the Santa Ana Police Department.