Santa Ana dispensary raid: After entering the Sky High Collective pot dispensary in Santa Ana, police are seen dismantling video security cameras in this screenshot of a video taken by cameras in May 2015. (Courtesy of Sky High Collective)

Officers in notorious video of California pot shop raid are off police force

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Three Santa Ana Police Department officers caught eating snacks during a raid on a marijuana dispensary with two of them making fun of a disabled woman are no longer working for the agency.

Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the department’s spokesman, confirmed Thursday that Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas and Jorge Arroyo were no longer officers in the city.

Both Sontag and Quijas’ last day was May 6, and Arroyo’s was April 20, Bertagna said.

He declined to discuss if they were fired or left on the department on their own: “I cannot comment on personnel matters.”

A surveillance video, released by the dispensary’s lawyer last year, shows the officers during a May 2015 raid of a marijuana dispensary, Sky High Holistic. The city accused it of selling marijuana without a permit.

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

The video, which made national headlines, showed officers serving a search warrant at Sky High. They ordered customers and employees to the ground and two made demeaning remarks about Sky High volunteer Marla James, an amputee in a wheelchair seen in the video.

“Did you punch that one-legged old benita?” a male officer asks a female officer, apparently referring to James.

“I was about to kick her in her (expletive) nub,” a female officer replies.

The officers disabled several cameras – except a hidden one that captured the incident. When the footage first surfaced, some thought the officers were eating marijuana edibles, taken from the shop, but prosecutors later said there was no evidence that the snacks contained any drugs.

In the aftermath, Police Chief Carlos Rojas announced that three officers involved in the raid were placed on administrative leave while the department investigated whether their actions violated policy.

In March, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed charges of petty theft against the trio. Sontag was also accused of vandalism for allegedly breaking some of the store’s surveillance cameras.

All three officers were placed on paid leave, and Bertagna had previously said their status with the department would be determined after an administrative appeals process and formal review.

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