The application process required to open a legal canna-business is an arduous and time-consuming task, but for one California businessman, the process took a bizarre and violent twist. Christopher Williams, a San Diego businessman who is trying to open three medical cannabis dispensaries in nearby Lemon Grove, claims that he was physically assaulted by a local city councilman during a private meeting with city officials.
On July 14th of last year, Williams met Lemon Grove City Councilman David Arambula, Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez, and local Democratic Party board member Taisha Brown at Arambula's house. Williams, who was reportedly frustrated by constant delays in getting his dispensaries fully licensed, hoped to discuss this issue at the meeting. The other parties said that they only intended to socialize and casually discuss ways to improve Lemon Grove.
According to Arambula and Vasquez, Williams repeatedly attempted to discuss his dispensaries, but the politicians told him they could not discuss the matter unofficially due to city protocol. "I told him that I couldn't hear his pitch about dispensaries in the city," Arambula said to the San Diego Union Tribune. "I told him he had to follow the protocol and process." Vasquez and Brown reportedly left the house around 11:30pm, and then the meeting took a turn for the worse.
According to Williams' assault claim, Arambula, who was "drinking heavily," struck him over his left eye with a beer bottle, then allegedly "bit, kicked, punched, and choked" him. "I suffered a serious laceration above my eye, a bite wound, a broken rib, and other injuries," Williams said in the claim, the San Diego Reader reports. "I required stitches and a tetanus shot in addition to other treatment. I have substantial medical bills, as well as damages for pain and suffering and lost work."
"I have never called the police in my life," Williams told Candid Chronicle. "That's not exactly something you're comfortable doing where I'm from. There was a lot at stake. I wondered what would people say, what would people do, what if people didn't believe me, and how would the city of Lemon Grove retaliate against my applications for speaking out?"
In January, Williams filed an assault claim against Arambula, but the councilman rejected the claim. Williams said that he did nothing to provoke the attack, but Arambula said that he was defending himself against the businessman, who grabbed him and attempted to choke him. Last week, Williams' attorney announced that he is filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against Arambula and Lemon Grove over the assault.
This is not the first time that Arambula has been accused of aggressive behavior. In 2016, San Diego attorney Dorinna Hirsch filed a restraining order against the councilman, accusing him of tampering with her legal documents, threatening her business, and stealing over $8,000 from her. "He screamed that he would destroy my business and 'mess me up' if I crossed him," Hirsch said in the document, local ABC affiliate 10 News reports.
Hirsch told Candid Chronicle that she believes Williams' side of the story, as she has personally seen Arambula go into a "manic rage" before. "I know this man [Arambula] and I know his temperament," she added. "I know he is so capable of doing this."