Chris Yarzab

Dispensary Files Lawsuit Against Costa Mesa Police Department Over Raid

A California dispensary shuttered following a raid by the Costa Mesa Police has filed a lawsuit against the department alleging officers exceeded their legal authority during the crackdown early this year.

The suit, filed by attorney Matthew Pappas on behalf of Costa Mesa Collective, seeks the return of cash, cannabis, patient records, and unspecified damages, according to an OC Register report.

“The city of Costa Mesa … believes it is above the law,” Pappas said in the report. “No longer can cities and police departments violate people’s rights based on marijuana once being part of failed drug prohibition policies.”

In the suit, Pappas alleges that police acted as “judge, jury, and executioner,” in the raid on the business — and did so without a search warrant. Costa Mesa Police Chief Rob Sharpnack said he is “100 percent certain” a code enforcement inspection warrant was obtained prior to the raid, however, officials have declined to produce the warrant or offer any additional details about what information that warrant contained.

The Register has not yet been able to locate a copy of the inspection warrant — which is normally used to review building, fire, zoning, and other civil code compliance — in city databases. Neither the collective’s owners nor employees were provided with a warrant at the time of the raid.

“[The police] were doing this to shut down a business without due process because they don’t like it,” Pappas said.

During the raid, police disabled security and recording devices “because they knew they were going to take everything in sight,” Pappas said, noting that authorities often argue they must seize recording devices to “ensure officer safety.” However, hidden cameras recorded the incident, which Pappas has made public.

In the video, officers enter the dispensary with guns drawn, forcing about a half dozen people to the floor while yelling “search warrant” but they do not appear to produce any documents at that time. Pappas says the rights of both employees and patients were violated because police continued to interrogate them after they requested to have a lawyer present.

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