Legal experts say Santa Ana police pot-raid video lawsuit is a loser

SANTA ANA – 3 police officers will certainly have actually difficulty persuading a judge to throw out surveillance video showing officers making off-color remarks regarding a disabled woman and purportedly consuming pot edibles throughout a marijuana dispensary raid, legal experts say.

“They have actually substantial obstacles,” Laurie Levenson, an attorney and professor at Loyola Law School, said Tuesday. “The very best defense is an excellent offense. They are obviously embarassed by the video tapes. If they can’t make them go away, they hope to blame the individuals that earned them. I don’t believe numerous individuals feel sorry for the officers in this situation.”

The 3 unidentified officers and the Santa Ana Police Officer’s Association filed a lawsuit last week in Orange County Superior seeking to avoid Santa Ana police internal affairs investigators from utilizing a hidden camera video from a Could 26 raid at Sky Higher Collective to identify if department policies were violated.

Santa Ana Police Department officials have actually declined to comment on the ongoing internal affairs investigation.

Matthew Pappas, an attorney for Sky High, has actually distributed clips and unedited versions of the video to several television stations and online news organizations including the Register.

In among the video clips, Santa Ana police officers brandishing firearms, and some wearing masks, are seen breaking through the front door of the 17th Street medical marijuana dispensary and buying at the very least a half-dozen customers to the floor.

(Editor’s note: This video was edited, and the wording that appears mounted on a few of the screen images is from a source various other compared to The Orange County Register or the Santa Ana Police Department. The profanity that appears on among the video frames was not placed there by the Register or the Santa Ana Police Department).

After entering the building, officers are seen dismantling video cameras inside the store.

After many of the cameras are taken down, a camera they apparently didn’t see shows a few of the officers making derogatory remarks regarding woman along with an amputated left leg that at the moment of the raid joined her wheelchair inside the dispensary.

In one more clip – which Pappas has actually titled “Officers consuming edibles and playing darts” – a voice can easily be heard asking, “Just what flavor?” prior to an officer is seen unwrapping a small package and placing something in his mouth.

Santa Ana Police Officer Association John Franks said the video need to not be used in the internal affairs investigation since it was obtained illegally.

“While citizens recording public actions by the police could be acceptable, police conduct in private where there is an expectation of privacy cannot be recorded by a non police officer,” Franks said in an email. “since the video is illegal, the usage of it by anyone, including the department to conduct an investigation, isn’t proper.”

Larry Rosenthal, an attorney and professor of law at Chapman University, described the claim that some police conduct need to be private as “ridiculous.”

“As quickly as you are on duty as a public official you have actually no expectation that Just what you do will certainly not be subject to public scrutiny,” he said. “I don’t believe it matters whether cameras were destroyed or not. They were carrying out the public’s business.”

Levenson said the officers will certainly most likely have actually difficulty convincing a judge they had requirement to believe their actions wouldn’t be recorded.

“Provided that they had currently dismantled numerous of the cameras, it will certainly be challenging for them to argue,” she said. “I don’t believe the state’s wire tap law was ever intended to be applied to this situation.”

Adopted by the California State Legislature in 1967, the California Invasion of Privacy Act makes it illegal for any type of individual free of the consent of one more celebration to tape confidential audio or video communications.

For example, its illegal for individuals, along with the exception of police officers or confidential informants, to use hidden cameras and or to tape phone conversations unless they tell the various other individual that is being recorded.

Levenson, that reviewed video from the Sky Higher raid, said it’s “rather apparent” that zero confidential happened inside the medical marijuana dispensary and that several customers observed a few of the officers’ actions.

Even if a judge tosses out the video, Santa Ana police internal investigators could call on a few of those customers to offer testimony, Levenson said. “Those witnesses could be seen as a lot more credible compared to the officers,” she said.

A trial date on the lawsuit has actually not been set.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7767 sschwebke@ocregister.com Twitter: @thechalkoutline

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