The Weekly has obtained full and unedited footage of the Santa Ana Police Department's May 26 raid of Sky High Holistic Collective that went viral in June. The footage contains hours of video from four separate cameras, not all of which were equipped for sound. However, footage from a camera inside the dispensary's lobby area as well as one inside the club's safe room appears to solve the the mystery of exactly what the officers were eating, as they confiscated box after box of dry marijuana and pot edibles.
And yes, the word “officers” is not a typo. Although the edited footage originally released showed only one officer munching on a Scooby snack while handing a treat to another cop, the full video clearly shows four officers gobbling away on what one of the cops calls “pretty good looking chocolate bars” that were retrieved from an open safe containing pot edibles.
As the Weekly first reported on June 12, secret cameras inside the Sky High collective recorded a female officer joking that she wanted to kick medical marijuana activist Marla James, a wheelchair-bound amputee, in her nub. Edited clips from the camera also showed an officer munching on what seems to be a marijuana edible, and another cop who identifies himself as Alex Sanchez laughing about how he once drank beer while driving to Staples Center with John Fish, the superior court judge who signed the search warrant for the raid (back when Fish was a prosecutor in the Orange County DA's office).
At first, a Santa Ana police spokesperson told anyone and everyone who'd listen that there was no definitive proof that the cops were eating edibles. But the full video shows that story to be the sham everyone knew it to be.
A closer examination of the raw footage from both the lobby and safe room shows that the raid proceeded in an orderly fashion until about 8:05 p.m. At that point, the dozen individuals inside the collective had already been arrested, the female cop had already insulted James, and the officers were busy tossing marijuana and edibles into boxes and sealing them up as evidence.
That's when one of the officers, who specifically mentions “safe number two,” which was unlocked and full of edibles, says, “There are some pretty good looking chocolate bars back there.”
The camera inside the safe room was not equipped with audio, but footage from that time of the raid shows an officer retrieving something from one of the safes and walking into the lobby with it. Within moments, the same cop and three of his partners can be seen clearly unwrapping what appear to be chocolate bars, blithely chewing away as they go about their business.
“Those candy bars are pretty good,” one of the cops remarks at 8:08 p.m., speaking with his mouth full. “I kinda feel light-headed though.”
Then one of the officers belches loudly. Nobody seems to notice, as the cops appear more interested in throwing darts at a board on the wall. Fire Department personnel soon enter the collective to examine the one safe that is locked. As they enter, Sanchez jokingly warns the other cops of their presence. “Fire Department,” he shouts. “Watch your mouths!”
At 8:35 pm, an African-American who appears to be a fire department employee walks through the lobby. “Y'all hungry yet?” he asks. “We got pizza on the way.”
And before we leave, here's that mean female cop who said nasty things about James snacking away on what the cops pulled out of the safe.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).