Cops Want Surveillance Video Showing Their Misconduct Squashed

Cops Want Surveillance Video Showing Their Misconduct Squashed August 6, 2015

As Andrew Sullivan used to say: From the annals of chutzpah. A trio of police officers from Santa Ana, California that were caught on surveillance video eating pot edibles after raiding a medical marijuana dispensary want that video evidence declared inadmissible in an internal investigation because they had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Three Santa Ana police officers want to quash a surveillance video that shows officers making derogatory comments about a disabled woman and possibly snacking on pot edibles during a recent raid of a medical marijuana dispensary.

A lawsuit, filed last week in Orange County Superior Court by three unidentified police officers and the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, seeks to prevent Santa Ana Police Department internal affairs investigators from using the video as they sort out what happened during the May 26 raid of Sky High Collective.

Lawyers for police and the dispensary said the video – which has been widely seen on television and several online news sites, including – could play a key role in the ongoing investigation into the officers’ actions…

Matthew Pappas, a lawyer for Sky High, pointed to the irony of police seeking to shoot down the use of video as evidence in an investigation when they routinely use videos to investigate other crimes.

“It’s pretty pathetic for police to say if we don’t like something that it can’t be used as evidence,” Pappas said.

That’s an understatement.

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

After most of the cameras are taken down, a camera they didn’t detect shows the officers talking about a woman with an amputated left leg who at the time of the raid was in her wheelchair inside the dispensary.

“Did you punch that one-legged old Benita,” a male officer asks a female officer, apparently referring to the woman in the wheelchair.

“I was about to kick her in her (expletive) nub,” the female officer replies, according to subtitles with the video.

In another clip – which Pappas has titled “Officers eating edibles and playing darts” – a voice can be heard asking, “What flavor?” before an officer is seen unwrapping a small package and putting something in his mouth.

The lawsuit argues that the video doesn’t paint a fair version of events. The suit also claims the video shouldn’t be used as evidence because, among other things, the police didn’t know they were on camera.

Yeah, it’s totally unfair to use that video because they didn’t know they were on video! Won’t someone think of the asshole cops?

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  • alverant

    The fact they were disabling cameras already in place should be considered a crime.

    • whheydt

      That was part of my thought…. Offer the cops a deal. That part of the recording won’t be used, but the part where they go around destroying the other cameras *will* be. Take your pick…only direct testimony about the stuff on that part of the video in exchange for video evidence of an attempted coverup.

      • Artor

        Fuck them in the neck. No deal. I hope the judge laughs the pigs out of court and the DOJ strings them up for evidence tampering, conspiracy, etc. They do shit like this because they know they can get away with it. They know they can, because they have already, over & over & over. No more deals for the coproaches.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    Given they’d have to be pretty stupid to have done what they did, I guess a stupid defense is all they could come up with.
    Or their lawyer is against the wall and had to come up with a hail mary.

  • Crip Dyke

    I shot that one snitch. I totally expected that I’d killed them all & there wouldn’t be any more. I really, really expected privacy. Now you’re telling me that there was a UC in my house recording all my drug dealing, illegal gambling, pimping, assault & murder?

    You can’t use those recordings! What is the world coming to when a person can’t break the law in piece after they believe they’ve destroyed all means of recording their illegal activities?

  • Abby Normal

    At last, a quick and easy solution to our prison overcrowding problem; video evidence is inadmissible if the criminal didn’t
    know they were being recorded. Brilliant! Let the appeals commence.


    “because they had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

    committing felonies, on duty, under color of authority. Yeah, I can see their point.

  • Synfandel

    Once the video has been squashed, they’ll probably also want it quashed.



    I just looked at the OCRegister story.

    SFJOAPS*! What assholes. They put a bunch of people on the floor as if they were criminals.

    Massive dicks with tiny dicks.

    * Sweet Fucking Jesus On A Pogo Stick

    • Synfandel

      LOL. Don’t hold back, democommie. Tell us what you really think.

  • llewelly

    When it comes to the privacy of private citizens, engaged in living their own personal lives, even when there’s no evidence of any crime whatever, police almost always insist on the need to invade privacy, in order to catch criminals. But, when it comes to the question of whether, and how well, police are doing their job – and what “job” they are doing – suddenly, even though they ought to be accountable to the public, they insist they have a right to privacy.

    But it won’t last. All of our network and computing infrastructure requires the lowest possible cost and fewest possible restrictions on the copying of information. This has caused the half-life of secrets to decline enormously. And that decline is likely to continue, for at least another decade or more. Unfortunately the decline has been so far asymmetrical; individuals have lost much more potential secrecy than corporations or governments. But everyone is subject to it nonetheless.

  • D. C. Sessions

    How is this different from objecting to witness testimony because the defendent thought he’d killed all of the witnesses?

    • abb3w

      Well, California is apparently an “all parties” recording state; and the police efforts to disable the video cameras might be argued as expressing a denial of that consent. (That such objection may sometimes be lawfully made seems the main distinction from killing a witness, which seems legal under much rarer circumstances.) As such, the recording might indeed be legally problematic.

      Contrariwise, the dispensary is not a government actor. Ergo, their continuing to record might be unlawful and thus preclude the video’s admissibility in civil suit claims by the dispensary against the officers, and perhaps also be grounds for criminal prosecution of the dispensary… but this would not preclude its admissibility by the state in seeking to prosecute the cops-playing-robbers.

      Nohow, I am not a lawyer, much less one admitted to the California Bar after induction in the peculiar mysteries of that state’s byzantine law and legal rituals.

      • Chuck Farley

        The fact that it is an “all parties” state would basically nullify as evidence any video shot of any person without their explicit knowledge. I doubt that is the case. I would also guess that if there is a sign at the dispensary stating that video surveillance is in use you have been legally notified. This would include the cops, who I hope can read.

        • abb3w

          My analysis oversimplifies, yes. There’s also the factor that there are times/places where a reasonable expectation of privacy does not exist, and thus anyone may record anything; EG, overt recording on a public street.

          If the dispensary had a sign, they’d clearly have the right to record any private citizen who entered; however, it’s not clear they did, and a government official on official business is not a private citizen.

          Nohow, Fordyce v Seattle would seem to indicate that at least in the 9th circuit, recording of police on official business is presumptively lawful, as a matter of First Amendment press interest.

          Still, lawyers try these sorts of maneuver, because sometimes a frivolous-seeming argument flies just fine, and they’re seldom penalized unless the argument is grossly frivolous.

          • Chuck Farley

            I know what you mean about lawyers throwing things at the wall to see if they stick.

            I’d like to do some research, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that dispensaries would be required by law to have video surveillance and signs alerting people, given the nature of the business. As such the police would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This is demonstrated by them dismantling other video cameras. If the dispensary were to face any consequences from the incident they would wind up being punished for the cops inability to find all the cameras.

      • Crip Dyke

        (That such objection may sometimes be lawfully made seems the main distinction from killing a witness, which seems legal under much rarer circumstances.)

        I assume this is a reference to my fictional statement parodying what a criminal might say in making a similar argument?

        You missed the point. The point was that if you kill all the snitches who are wearing wires, then there is no recording. If you **believe** you have killed all the snitches wearing wires, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

        You’re saying the violence of destroying the cameras (whether or not destroying the cameras is legal) indicates denial of consent to be recorded.

        I’m saying the argument is the same if you happened to kill the camera operator (whether or not killing the camera operator is legal) carries the same implication that consent to be recorded is denied.

        I’m not comparing the legality of breaking a particular camera with the legality of a particular killing. I’m saying that

        violently preventing SOME recording justifies tossing out any remaining recordings that persisted despite your violence

        …then that justification remains valid whether your violence is against cameras or people.

        Of course other, unrelated problems might make this argument’s proponent lose a court battle – multiple points of law can be at issue at once in a contest of admissibility of a single piece of evidence – but boiling it down to this “my violence means you can’t record me” illustrates the problem with this argument on its own merits.

  • Kermit Freehand

    Abby Normal

    an hour ago

    “At last, a quick and easy solution to our prison overcrowding problem; video evidence is inadmissible if the criminal didn’t
    know they were being recorded.”

    I think it would only apply if the alleged criminal made a good faith attempt to destroy all cameras and recording devices. I don’t think we would need a “reasonable person” standard, however.

  • Um… quashed?

  • …is anyone actually surprised by this?

  • Artor

    Of course they had a reasonable expectation of privacy. They thought they had destroyed all the cameras. How could they have known they’d missed one?

  • The_Schwa

    “I didn’t know there was film in the camera in my hat!”