Three police officers who were caught ridiculing an amputee and noshing snacks during a dispensary raid are no longer working for the Santa Ana Police Department.
The department won’t say whether officers Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas, and Jorge Orroyo resigned voluntarily or were fired, but spokesman Cpl. Anthony Bertagna confirmed to the Orange County Register yesterday that all three have left the force. Sontag and Quijas’ last day was May 6. Arroyo’s was April 20.
It’s safe to say the three officers didn’t intend their actions to be recorded during the May 2015 raid on Santa Ana’s Sky High Holistic dispensary. Police broke through the dispensary’s front door and, with weapons drawn, ordered at least half a dozen customers to the floor. The officers then allegedly disabled several surveillance cameras in the shop — but overlooked a hidden one that captured the incident.
“Did you punch that one-legged old benita?” a male officer asks a female officer on the surveillance video, presumably referring to Sky High volunteer Marla James, a 55 year-old amputee who uses a wheelchair.
“I was about to kick her in her fucking nub,” the female officer replies.
The officers were also captured on video eating snacks, which some initially thought were cannabis-infused edibles. Prosecutors later said there was no evidence to support that the snacks contained cannabis.
The three were put on administrative leave shortly after the raid, according to Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas. In March, the Orange County District Attorney’s office charged the officers with petty theft, for stealing cookies and other edibles. Sontag was also accused of vandalism for allegedly breaking the store’s surveillance cameras.
If the three felt guilty about their actions during the raid, they didn’t show it. In August 2015, they filed a lawsuit against their own department in an effort to keep the video under wraps. They argued the footage shouldn’t be used as evidence against them because, among other things, the police didn’t know they were on camera.