Rohnert Park Cops Accused of Stealing Cash and Weed From Drivers
Two Rohnert Park police officers have been charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right for allegedly stealing cash and marijuana from drivers they stopped along Highway 101. One of the officers has also been charged with falsification of records in a federal investigation and tax evasion.
The allegations were detailed in criminal indictments unsealed earlier this month.
From the US Department of Justice:
The criminal complaint describes how [Brendon Jacy Tatum] and others allegedly conducted numerous interdictions while on duty, in which Tatum is alleged to have extorted at least $3,700 in cash and significant amounts of marijuana from victim drivers they stopped along Highway 101, by threatening to arrest them and seize the assets and marijuana if the victim drivers did not consent to the seizures. In these cases, Tatum and the other officers made no reports of the seizure, did not submit the marijuana or assets into evidence, and sought no destruction orders for the marijuana. These seizures were completely undocumented by the officers, contrary to policy, but were captured in audio and video footage from the officers’ body-worn cameras.
The undocumented stops and seizures allegedly occurred even after termination of the interdiction team’s operations. On December 5, 2017, the complaint alleges, Tatum and [Joseph Huffaker] stopped a driver along Highway 101. Neither were wearing RPDPS uniforms and they claimed to be ATF agents. The complaint alleges Tatum and Huffaker extorted marijuana from the victim driver and the seizure went completely undocumented. Again, on December 18, 2017, Tatum and another officer stopped another driver carrying 23 pounds of marijuana, packaged in one-pound bags, labeled by date and strain. That driver also had four crates of hash, all destined for a dispensary lab. Again, Tatum and the other officer were not in RPDPS uniforms and identified themselves as ATF agents when they told the driver they would either arrest him and seize the marijuana and hash, or the driver could agree to let them take the marijuana. Tatum and the officer took the marijuana.
Read more about the indictments here.