Police protest draws handful of supporters
January 29, 2013
Editor’s note: Ty Robben received a deferred sentence in relation to his no contest plea. If he complies with court orders for a year, the charge will be dropped, according to prosecutors.A man who is upset about South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s handling of an incident involving bounty hunters at a Sierra Tract home protested alleged police corruption Monday.Todd “Ty” Robben unfurled oversized crime-scene tape and posted numerous signs on Al Tahoe Boulevard Monday afternoon alleging malfeasance by police.Robben is angered by the department’s response to an October incident in which he says Nevada bounty hunters illegally entered his Pinter Avenue house to serve a misdemeanor contempt of court warrant out of Nevada without the required documentation from California. He said he was shocked with a Taser during the incident, but escaped what he considers an attempted kidnapping by the bounty hunters.“What I’m saying is justice delayed is justice denied,” Robben said at the start of Monday’s demonstration. “They’re not giving me a straight answer on the delay.”South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler was surprised by the protest, saying he has been in contact with Robben regarding the status of the investigation as recently as Friday.The department has made “steady progress” on the investigation of the bounty hunters’ behavior, Uhler said. He questioned the need for urgency on the incident because it does not present an ongoing threat to public safety.The police chief also questioned the use of language on some of the protest signs that could be offensive to some and said Robben was pushing the envelope regarding the city’s sign ordinances. He said the department supports people’s constitutional rights to free speech and didn’t want to make a big deal about the possible infractions.Police have submitted information on the October incident to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, Uhler said. Whether or not criminal charges will arise form the incident is unknown. The District Attorney’s Office sent the investigation of the incident back to police in December for further information gathering last month. Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said on Tuesday afternoon that documentation of the incident was re-submitted to prosecutors about 10 a.m. Monday. Despite the signs alleging corruption, Robben said he doesn’t feel that most police are corrupt, but said that it is up to them to prove they are not. He said he hoped the protest would bring exposure to people with similar complaints.“This is what we can do as citizens,” Robben said, describing himself as a patriot.Three people were at the protest when it started around noon. Several people stopped by to inquire about the reasons for the signs.Fliers advertising the protest included a picture of recently arrested South Lake Tahoe police officer Johnny Poland. Robben said the protest was planned prior to Poland’s arrest.This is not the first time Robben has used protests to draw attention to alleged corruption by government officials.Robben organized similar protests in front of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office in April, alleging the Carson City Court Clerk’s Office manipulated transcripts and improperly allowed the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to file court documents late in his fight to be reinstated to a job with the Nevada Department of Taxation, according to an article in the Nevada Appeal.In September 2009 Robben filed a lawsuit alleging he was the victim of discrimination and was demoted after bringing complaints to managers.Robben was arrested in Carson City in August on misdemeanor counts of assault and breach of peace for an incident in which he says he was legally attempting to serve a subpoena on Nevada Department of Transportation Director Susan Martinovich earlier in the month, according to the article.Robben said that Martinovich ran over his toe with a car while he was attempting to serve the subpoena, the Appeal reported. Martinovich has said she felt threatened during the incident and was later granted a restraining order against Robben.Prosecutors said Robben pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge to settle the case in November, according to a subsequent Nevada Appeal article.— The Associated Press contributed to this story.