[WATCH] UC Berkeley Launches Investigation Into Cop Stealing Hot Dog Vendor’s Cash

BERKELEY — Following public outcry from a viral video of a UC Berkeley police officer citing a hot dog vendor over the weekend for operating without a permit, and then confiscating his cash, the university announced Monday it will launch an investigation into the incident, while still defending the money seizure.

A college official said the officer was following instructions to crack down on illegal vendors outside of campus events and it is standard procedure to confiscate the proceeds and book them into evidence. A video shot Saturday by a customer whose food purchase was interrupted by the bust, showed the officer going through the vendor’s wallet and taking out the bills.

In a full-page statement, Cal vice chancellor Scott Biddy said officers typically offer warnings before citing illegal vendors, but that the college “instructed our officers to monitor illegal vending outside our event venues.” The incident happened as a Cal football game was letting out at Memorial Stadium.

“This action has been motivated at least in part by issues of public health, the interests of local small businesses, and even human trafficking,” Biddy said in the statement. “In addition, while I cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case, our practice is to issue warnings before giving a citation. In a case such as this, it is typical to collect any suspected illegal funds and enter them into evidence.”

Biddy said $60 was seized as evidence of the “suspected proceeds of the violation” and booked into evidence. it is not clear how the officer how the officer knew whether the wallet’s contents were entirely derived from sales.

“I have instructed University of California Police Department to open a complaint investigation,” he said. “We will assign an investigator to look at both the procedural and management issues related to the incident. Please be assured that the investigation will be completed in a timely manner.”

The officer involved will continue working, the vice chancellor said.

The incident went viral when Los Angeles resident Martin Flores posted video of the citation in a Saturday evening Facebook post that elicited both condemnation of the officer and praise that he followed the letter of the law.

It was around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, as football fans were leaving, that the UC Berkeley police officer issued the citation to the vendor in the 2200 block of Piedmont Avenue, just north of Bancroft Way.

Flores said he had just left the game with his children and was in the process of buying a bacon-wrapped hot dog from the vendor when the officer interrupted his sale. He filmed the officer pulling cash from the vendor’s wallet and protested, asking why the officer did not cite all the people drinking on campus with open alcohol containers. In the video, which was initially posted to Flores’ Facebook page, the officer tells Flores that he received a specific complaint against the vendor.

Since the episode, Flores set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $10,000. As of Monday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $38,000. On the fund raising site Flores said the money would go to the vendor and to support other street vendors.

Source: http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/09/11/uc-berkeley-launches-investigation-into-viral-video-of-cop-confiscating-hot-dog-vendors-cash/