Grover Beach Police broke into the home of Jason and Aileen Brooks last Tuesday, Oct. 18, to discover an elaborate marijuana growroom and a large cache of the dried herb. Police entered the apartment at 443 Trouville Ave. without a warrant, based on an erroneous report of an unattended child.
The Brookses' landlord, Gail Kemble, let an inspector into the apartment to conduct an unannounced inspection of the property, and he saw the Brookses' 4-year-old son playing alone on the staircase. Not knowing that the mother was upstairs in the bedroom, Kemble called the police.
When the police arrived, they began prying open cupboards, cabinets, and the locked door to a spare bedroom. In that bedroom and in the garage, they discovered a 4000-watt grow setup with close to 100 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, mostly un-rooted cuttings. Police also found Mrs. Brooks, who was promptly handcuffed and arrested, and 1.5 gallons of "concentrated liquid cannabis" - whatever that is.
Aileen explained her medical status to the arresting officers and provided them with her physician's phone number, as well as paperwork showing that they were caregivers for other patients in the area. The police made the call to Dr. Philip Denney, who verified that Aileen and Jason were both qualified medical marijuana patients who were using cannabis under his recommendation for severe back and neck pain related to injuries from a car accident.
After speaking to Dr. Denney, the officers proceeded with the arrest. Aileen and her son were both taken into custody, and she was charged with multiple felonies, including cultivation, possession for sale, and child endangerment. Their son has been temporarily placed in the custody of a relative.
The police report was completed with no mention of the suspects' medical status or the phone call to Dr. Denney. Lt. Brian Thomas maintained that "no medical documentation was provided to the arresting officers at the scene," although he does not deny that a phone call was made to "someone claiming to be a doctor."
"We'll wait to see the evidence that comes out," attorney Louis Koory observed. "I have confidence in the ability of the judge and the courts to enforce the law fairly."
Jason came home Tuesday evening to find his "worst nightmare:" an empty house, a dismantled growroom, and blood all over his bed. Aileen reported that she incurred a bloody nose during the arrest.
On Friday, Aileen's family posted bail - which had been reduced from $50,000 to $20,000 with the help of Koory - and she was released from jail. On Monday, her 26th birthday, Aileen appeared in court with Koory and had her arraignment postponed one week.
Also on Monday, Koory met with Grover Beach Police, who were issuing a warrant for Jason's arrest. Koory told New Times that he'd made a gentleman's agreement to surrender Jason, and that Lt. Thomas agreed to notify Koory before executing the warrant. Although not legally binding, such an arrangement is not uncommon, Koory said, and in his 14 years as an attorney, he can't remember such an agreement ever being dishonored.
After a failed attempt to contact Jason on his cell phone, the police returned to the Brookses' apartment shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday and served the felony arrest warrant, without notifying Koory. Jason is now being held in county jail at $50,000 bail.
The Brooks family is scrambling to raise money for its legal defense fund, and asks that people contact Koory at 541-5411 to contribute.
Jeff Hornaday can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.