Fired: Three Santa Ana Cops Finally Pay A Price
July, 25 2016 (Fault Lines) — A 2015 SWAT style raid on a Santa Ana, CA medical marijuana dispensary has now resulted in the firing of three cops. Officers Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas and Jorge Arroyo remain charged with petty theft and vandalism, but at least they’re no longer cops. This answers the question Fault Lines contributor Greg Prickett asked last March, “Why haven’t the officers been fired?”
In the video, made by a hidden camera the cops did not manage to destroy, it is the way the officers talk about an elderly woman with an amputated leg in a wheelchair present at the dispensary that is most disturbing.
At one point a male officer asks a female officer:
Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?
The female officer replies:
I was about to punch her in her fucking nub.
Once, these cops were human, but not any-more. What to them is good natured on the job banter reveals their racist contempt for another human being. For humans, the sight of an elderly woman amputee in a wheelchair evokes some tiny sorrow or compassion. For two of those cops, it was funny that one was about to “punch her in her fucking nub.” It is hard to imagine what is funny about that, but it shows one important reality: Some people cannot handle being a cop.
It is simply too much power; the power to take someone off the street, from their home and lock them in a concrete room. They have the power to beat, to lie; to take a person’s life and not be held accountable. This ability breeds an arrogance and contempt for those who do not share it.
Someone might argue that it was only a couple of cops out of line here and they got fired; end of story. But is it?
As a defense investigator in jurisdictions where the defense has pre-trial access to interview police officers (unlike California), you are tasked with investigating hundreds of police officers; thousands over a lengthy career. Any particular case might result in anywhere from one to upwards of 25 officers you have to investigate and interview cases from shoplifting to a SWAT action on your client’s home.
You are able to clearly recognize those officers with integrity and professionalism. They don’t make too many mistakes, have good instincts. When you watch a surveillance video, you find what the cops don’t know yet; whether what you see matches their report. If they have to get violent, they do so only until there is no longer a threat. They write good reports without boilerplate language. And if they are a witness against your client, it can be disastrous for the defense.
Then you have the problem cops. These are so bad that the DA will not let them be interviewed without at least a supervisory ADA present. They have multiple complaints of misconduct. When you catch them in an inconsistency (which is often), they are apt to fly off the handle, jump-up suddenly sending their chair flying backwards yelling with crocodile indignation, “How dare you question my integrity?” Or worse.
They try to intimidate you, sneering and staring at you with unveiled contempt. The message is clear: Who are you to question me? They cannot stand the reversal of roles provided by the legal system. You can feel the hate seething through their system.
After the interview, which is usually cut short by the ADA before you have completed your questions and for which the cop just got 4 hours of overtime for a half hour in the chair, he or she will go back out on the street; a scary thought.
The rest are like the other cops in the Santa Ana raid. They weren’t breaking cameras or eating the product, but they still trashed the joint. They didn’t say anything to the other cops about their piss poor attitude toward the handicapped. They did nothing to stop the other cops from doing wrong. They fly under the radar. They, unlike the real professionals, make up the vast majority of cops people trot out to make it sound like we don’t have a cop problem in this country.
Do you ever wonder why the vast majority don’t just take these few cops out back and give ‘em a little tune-up? You know, the kind not involving spark plugs, cap, rotor, oil change and filters? The kind that cops love so much?
Is the brotherhood so strong that the vast majority will let a few cops make everyone look bad?
The alternative isn’t comforting.