Three Santa Ana police officers caught on tape last year destroying cameras, throwing darts, eating what look like pot edibles and insulting a disabled cannabis patient, have been fired, a Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) spokesperson has confirmed. Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas and Jorge Arroyo are no longer employed by SAPD, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, an SAPD spokesperson, who declined further comment, saying he was unable to discuss “personnel matters.”
As the Weekly reported last month, the three officers recently pled not guilty to charges of vandalism and petty theft (of what prosecutors allege were candy bars) stemming from the notorious May 26, 2015 raid of the Sky High Holistic marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana. They were last reported to have been on paid leave pending administrative appeals, but according to Bertagna, Arroyo’s last day on the job was April 20, 2016—insert 420 joke here—while both Quijas and Sontag left the department on May 6.
After raiding Sky High, arresting several individuals and dismantling all the video surveillance equipment they could find inside the dispensary, the officers apparently thought they had found all the cameras. But a backup surveillance system with cameras inside each room showed officers joking about kicking pot activist Marla James, an amputee confined to a wheelchair who has since sued Santa Ana, in her “nub.” Then, after retrieving what appear to be pot edibles from a back room, the officers begin snacking on the treats, including one officer who joked that he felt “kinda light headed.”
The three officers who no longer work for SAPD were never drug-tested however. But after a lengthy internal affairs investigation, prosecutors charged them with with misdemeanor counts of petty theft and vandalism. If convicted, they face between six months and a year in prison.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is managing 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).