Rohnert Park Public Safety Sgt. Brendon “Jacy” Tatum is no longer employed by the city amid an investigation into a mysterious marijuana seizure in Mendocino County, city officials said Friday.
Tatum has previously been decorated by the city for his work seizing suspected illegal drugs and cash on Highway 101, often far outside city limits, even outside Sonoma County.
But questions surrounding a December 2017 traffic stop in Mendocino County led the city earlier this year to put Tatum and another officer, Joseph Huffaker, on paid administrative leave and launch an investigation.
Zeke Flatten, the driver who was pulled over on Dec. 5 near Frog Woman Rock in southern Mendocino County, said he believes he was robbed of 3 pounds of cannabis by two police officers in an unmarked patrol vehicle.
No local, state or federal law enforcement agency has so far come forward to say its officers were involved.
Huffaker remains a city employee, Rohnert Park Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz said. He declined to describe the scope of the investigation other than to say they are looking into Flatten’s case.
“Jacy Tatum is no longer employed by the city,” Schwartz said. “I can just say two things: He’s no longer employed by the city and the investigation continues, and that’s all I can tell you.”
Tatum, 35, had served in the department for 15 years and was promoted to sergeant in 2015.
Schwartz said California laws barring release of police personnel information prohibit him from answering questions about the exact end date of Tatum’s employment or the reason for his departure, such as whether he quit or was fired. He also said those laws prevented him from describing the scope of the investigation.
“We’re investigating what happened regarding Zeke Flatten and his concerns,” Schwartz said.
Tatum’s lawyer couldn’t be reached Friday.
Flatten was pulled over on southbound Highway 101 between Hopland and Cloverdale in Mendocino County about noon Dec. 5 as he drove from Garberville to Santa Rosa. Flatten, who lived part time in California at the time and has since moved, said he was a licensed driver and had a medical marijuana recommendation issued in California.
The officers arrived in an unmarked dark SUV with California exempt license plates and wore generic police vests and no visible badges or uniforms, according to Flatten. They told Flatten they could search the vehicles of people with medical marijuana recommendations, he said.
The officers opened a sealed box they found in the trunk holding 3 pounds of cannabis Flatten said he had received from a family friend in Humboldt County. They took it and left without citing him for a traffic violation or drug crime.
“He said, ‘We’re with the ATF. Marijuana is taking over in California like cigarettes, you may get a letter from Washington,’?” according to Flatten. “He handed (over) my license and rental car contract and said, ‘Have a nice day.’?”
For six months, Flatten has been trying to figure out who pulled him over. Flatten contacted the FBI and sent letters to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and grand jury asking for an agency to step forward and identify the officers. He’s called reporters, trying to get his questions answered.
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