The City of Long Beach has been sued by a group of 11 marijuana dispensary owners who allege that more than 100 police raids of their businesses last year resulted in illegally seized money and property that's not been returned--yet no criminal charges were filed.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, alleges the city violated the civil rights of the business owners with "warrantless searches" by police as a cover story to shut down the shops. It alleges the raids also violated the business owners' 4th amendment right to unreasonable searches.
The situation has attracted attention because one of the raids was caught on surveillance video, time stamped 6/19/12, and was posted on YouTube. (It is posted here). In it, one uniformed officer can be seen looking as if he just discovered the security camera, and some have interpreted the video depicting a suspect being stepped on by an officer as he was handcuffed. Another apparent officer takes a metal pole and smashes another camera, which then goes jumbled.
The Long Beach Police Department was not readily reachable for comment Friday afternoon but announced in July that it was investigating the case.
An online report by KNBC's Jason Kandel Friday said: "The lawsuit alleges that the city engaged in 'oppressive tactics' to try and force out the shops, first by enacting city zoning laws and an illegal lottery issuing permits to some shops. When these tactics failed, the lawsuit said, the city began using more aggressive tactics such as arresting owners and operators for misdemeanor violations of zoning ordinances and then using 'warrantless searches.'”