A former Arcata police officer is alleging that the department agreed to take officers out for dinner and drinks if they met a quota for seized marijuana plants and cash from drug busts.
In a declaration, Kevin Stonebarger, who resigned from the department last year due to a career-ending knee injury, claims Sgt. Todd Dokweiler agreed to buy the entire Special Services Unit dinner and drinks if they seized 10,000 marijuana plants, and at least $150,000 in forfeitable assets from marijuana growers in 2011.
Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman and City Manager Randy Mendosa said they are unable to comment on pending litigation.
Attorney Nancy Delaney, who is representing the city, said the city is satisfied that the officers acted appropriately.
”There are things in the declaration that Mr. Stonebarger signed under penalty of perjury that are false. Period,” Delaney said.
”Our policy is to try cases in the courtroom rather than media,” Delaney said.
Stonebarger's declaration is part of a lawsuit filed by attorneys Peter Martin and Jeffrey Schwartz on behalf of Barbara Sage and her late husband Charles Sage against the city of Arcata and Sgt. Brian Hoffman. The suit alleges police officers conducted an unlawful search of their Zehndner Avenue home in 2011. Stonebarger alerted the attorneys to the alleged quotas after he left the department.
A motion for summary judgment hearing requested by the city was supposed to be held on Tuesday, but the date was vacated, Martin said. He said the case will likely proceed to trial at the end of 2014.
”One of our big issues in the case is that we want to establish that they need to respect the Compassionate Use Act,” Martin said. “If they don't have any evidence that someone is violating the Compassionate Use Act, they can't do a search of somebody's house.”
According to Martin, the Sages had a legal marijuana grow under Proposition 215 -- California's medical marijuana law -- that was raided by Arcata police searching for marijuana.
The lawsuit further alleges that officers, acting on an unlawful warrant, used excessive force and didn't make their intentions clear while looking for evidence of illegal marijuana cultivation that was never found.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.