All court documents are at the end of the page in a gallery
A 911 Call Gone Wrong
Worst bike ride ever
After my 911 report of being attacked by a hitchhiker July 10th, 2010 I was unjustly arrested and falsely charged with a concealed weapon, among other bogus charges, all of which were dismissed. An effort to protect the community cost me eight days in jail, $1,800 for bail, a legal battle lasting months, and to top it all off horrendous media coverage in a local paper that haunts my “image” to this day on Google. The paper in question is Kevin Hoover’s Arcata Eye, now merged with the McKinleyvile Press to form the Mad River Union where the article is available. The article titled “Robo Arrested On Concealed Weapon Charge” is full of strikethroughs, corrections, and a great deal of comments critical of the so-called reporting absent of including my side. Hoover attacked me previously as a student activist at Humboldt State University. This is my story discrediting the police report and Hoover’s report.
The incident occurred while riding my bicycle on the 101 north from Arcata to McKinleyville where I was housesitting my friend’s cats. My assailant was an apparent hitchhiker just past the mouth of the highway onramp coming off Guintoli Ave. The individual I encountered moved into my path on the bike lane. He yelled, “You’re fucking up my chances to get a ride bro.” After a quick glance over my left shoulder for traffic I made the split-second decision to veer into the vehicle lane evading an attempt to take me off of my bike. On later kayaking trips on the Mad River I discovered the sizable homeless encampment under the 101 bridge.
Concerned with any motorist they could also threaten appearing to be a hitchhiker I called 9/11. After giving my name and explaining the incident I proceeding to take the next exit and bike up Granite Hill in McKinleyville. As I reached the top of the hill and the local Six Rivers Brewery I was stopped by a Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy. He treated me immediately with suspicion and clearly did not operate according to what I reported to the dispatcher. My lawyer later summed up Hicks’ actions as, “immediately suspected the defendant of wrongdoing ignoring the purpose of the call and improperly detained, and arrested him before ever investigating the purpose of the call.” When asked if I had any weapons I explained having an open-carry blade on my belt and pointed to my right side when asked “where?”. The deputy’s report later claimed I reached behind my back with my left hand. I tried to show the deputy my call logs since he was clearly treating me as a suspect rather than a concerned citizen. He told me not to put my hands in my pocket, then paradoxically ordered me to put my phone away.
Suddenly the deputy rushed me and attempted to apply some kind of submission hold while pinning me into a street sign. The report claims I grabbed the sign which was hard to do when somebody grabs your arms. I resisted this unprovoked contact as he yelled to, “cooperate and everything will be fine.” Seeing his name badge I urged deputy Hicks to calm down and repeatedly stated “I Called you.” I ended up allowing myself to be walked to the cruiser where I was pinned to the hood of the cruiser. Hicks tore the knife from my belt sheath and all. I was then cuffed with my hands behind my back and put in the back of the cruiser with the assistance of deputy Conlin who just arrived. The police report claimed that my knife was concealed in the small of my back under an oversized jacket. As you can see in the picture it is not oversized stopping at my belt-line. I urged Conlin to calm Hicks and to properly execute the purpose of the call. The hard seat combined with cuffs behind my back was unbearable. I remedied this using my flexibility to maneuver the cuffs under my boots so that my hands were in front.
They searched my bag then asked me if I had ID. Before I could reply they noticed expressing displeasure the relocation of my hands in front of me. “Do you want to do this again?” I asked them, an offer they declined to take me up on. I criticized them for failing to find my ID which was in the bag. Noting that their inability to locate the ID was a microcosm of their greater failure I declined to assist them. After finding it themselves they checked my record with dispatch. I was then driven away without my Miranda rights read to me nor any stated charge. I audibly assailed Hicks the entire time I was in the police cruiser. The report Hicks made falsely claimed that we went scouting for the hitchhiker. It also claimed I was intoxicated and “unable to care for myself and others”. This is insulting since I called because of my concern for others. No measurement was taken of my blood alcohol.As my lawyer later stated in a Pitchess motion, “Deputy Hicks alleges in his report that he was not sure whether Robo was the person with the knife or the 911 caller despite Robo being on his bicycle when he initially saw him. The officer in arrest mode treated Robo as a suspect, detained him, and arrested defendant.” Conveniently my 9/11 call was never provided in the discovery phase seeking a trial to clear my name.
Arriving at the Humboldt County Jail in Eureka a half dozen waiting guards awaited. The handled me like a hog-tied pig and deposited me into a holding cell for hourswithout explanation. Eventually I was escorted to some sort of guard station. Before I knew they were booking me for any charges they informed me my bail was set at $25,000. I laughed at the absurdity and to know on what charge. Concealed weapon and resisting arrest is what I was told. Being a poor recent college graduate I resigned to being a prisoner until I could get a hearing.
I wasted little breath complaining. I made my body limp and they had to manipulate my body to take prints. I did cooperate changing into the inmate jumpsuit. Refusing this step would have resulting in the rough handling as threatened by a clearly aggressive guard. He had already repeatedly yell at me to shut up amidst my verbal protest, the only one of a few guards thoroughly annoyed by my complaints and defiance. I was additionally cautious recalling the death of Martin Cotton who was an inmate there found dead in 2007 under suspicious circumstances. I refused to sign any of their paperwork. However, I did take a risk in refusing a “buchal swab” in effort to collect a DNA sample. This resulted in the charge of “Refusal or failure to provide specimen” and boosted my bail by $5,000 to $30,000 total. The law was later struck down by the ACLU. Some guards seemed perplexed that they didn’t forcibly take it. Perhaps my resistance was a factor. Proposition 69 was passed by California voters in 2004 to collect DNA of accused felons starting in 2009. Turns out the charge of concealed weapon is a “wobbler”, potentially being a misdemeanor or felony.
Being uncooperative I was punished with placement in maximum security and my cellmate being Jacob Steele, who was later convicted of second degree murder sentenced 40 years to life. I assumed he was unlikely to double-down as he fought the charges and slept no worse than the discomfort of the jail environment combined with the stress of the whole ordeal. Privileges were scarce with only an hour allowed outside the cell, a rule which was not always observed by the guards. Being dedicated to an organic food diet I refused to eat in anticipation of my release. I gave my food to my cellmate so you could say I fed a murderer.
After a few days I was put in general population in an open space with bunch beds. Fellow prisoners got upset that I wouldn’t get a tray of food and that it was “going to waste.” So I ended up trading it for some control over the TV and fresh organic fruit anticipating needing to break my fast before release. Some of the oranges, apples, and bananas I acquired were confiscated. Apparently overpriced Snickers are OK to horde, not whole food. One funny aspect was while watching Access Humboldt some documentary films played that I submitted for airing in effort to inform my community. I was actually among Access Humboldt volunteers helping film the recent Kinetic Grand Championship and was unable to attend the thank you BBQ that weekend in jail. I was able to do some decent reading and it was a pretty surreal scenario in which to read “The Gulag Archipelago” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. An Arthur C. Clarke collection made for fun reading to escape to. Speaking of books, an additional charge of resisting arrest was added to my list of false accusations. By the way, it is actually legal to resist an unjust arrest.
At my hearing on July 14th I plead not guilty. Having no arrest record in California the judge released me on my own recognizance as I hoped. Instead of being set free immediately sent back into the jail waiting hours until my name was called. It was a false alarm of freedom however, I was to be interviewed by a psychologist named Joy. This was regarding possible suicidal thoughts for my fasting in spite of the unacceptable excuse for food they served. After explaining my logic and that I was to be released she lacked concern for my mental state. I was called again, given musty clothes that sat sealed in a plastic bag for five days, my cash was in the form of a check and it was after business hours. My backpack and bicycle were stored at the McKinleyville Humboldt County Sheriff’s office thirteen-plus miles away. After demanding my belongings I was threatened with arrest for trespassing and forced to sign some documents.
Smelly, cashless, and without transportation, I was kicked out into the streets. Another condition of my release under duress was was waiving my fourth amendment rights, the law protecting people from unreasonable search and seizure in the spirit that everyone’s home is his castle. Consequently this could affect anyone in proximity of me. So basically anywhere I was, even my house could get raided at any time. To my roommates this was not a welcome possible side-effect. However I was willing to endure those conditions in order to get my day in court to fight for vindication. I knew I had a strong defense.
“All three charges involve strictly the word of the deputy against the word of the defendant. It is telling that the backup officer was not privy to any of the charges and made no separate report. It is telling that the one charge that could have been confirmed – public intoxication – that no testing of any kind was conducted to confirm the same. There was no additional report from the back up officer or from the jailers who received defendant for processing,” as a Pitchess motion filed to the court noted.
I attempted to bring the incident into the public light with a letter to the editor in the Times-Standard that was not published. I also put out a press release from Unstacking the Deck. While volunteering to film the district attorney debate for Access Humboldt I realized I could give a letter to then DA Paul Gallegos during a rehearsal. I gave it to him at the debate, but he did not read it.
They say “you get what you pay for” and when that comes to lawyers my pro-bono attorney ended up being quite costly in other ways. Jeffrey Schwartz took my case believing Hicks was previously taken off the streets being “exposed” as a peeping tom. As Schwartz stated in a Pitchess motion he drafted:
Scott Hicks has been disciplined for several moral turpitude incidents involving immoral and lascivious behavior while peering at college students sunbathing on the Mad River. … Spending hours … on many occasions, the deputy would confront the nude bathing college girls under the guise of investigating them for smoking marijuana. He would then lasciviously peer at the women and on some occasions physically search nude women for evidence of marijuana smoking. … Officer Hicks was disciplined for his conduct and taken off the streets. Apparently he was allowed again to be back on the streets still behaving badly.
Unfortunately Schwartz did not conduct due diligence and this was not the Hicks he assumed it was. He reluctantly kept my case, but I would have been better off if he cut me loose to the public defender. One particular court date was originally a minor hearing Schwartz said I was not required to attend. Apparently another client of his with a DUI had a jury trial. After he unexpectedly accepted a plea bargain I inherited that jury and a bench warrant resulted. I however had no interest in any plea bargain, having various witnesses including a US Marine combat veteran to confront Hicks’ lies about the location of my knife. Schwartz called and texted me urging to stay away from the court house or I would be arrested.
Schwartz’s poor strategy to deal with this was to wait it out and hope the judge would forget. I was not confident in this concept. April 13th, 2011, while reporting on a student protest at Humboldt State University for my Access Humboldt news program “Unstacking the Deck” I was arrested by the University Police Department who recognized me from my activism as a student having graduated in 2009. After three days in jail Schwartz was nowhere to be seen at my hearing. The judge ordered me back into the jail and I arose attached to other defendants. At the last second Schwartz entered the court room. I doubt Schwartz’s tardiness helped and it also seemed the judge did not forget my unintended failure to appear. I was denied release short of posting $50,000 bail lest I wait an unknown period of time for a trial. Luckily I had a good friend and fellow HSU political science alum with an unused emergency credit card. She attended the brief hearing, which lifted my spirits. I suspect the judge may have enjoyed crushing my positive outlook. Between a clerical error and a discount for her status as a county employee it cost $815 to not spend my upcoming birthday in jail. Schwartz believed that the court clerk intentionally made the error out of pity. Also a noteworthy aspect is that when you pay bail to get out of jail it took no time compared to the first time.
The inaccurate Arcata Eye article “Robo arrested for concealed weapon” resulted from this second arrest. Despite my dismissal what Hoover published has haunted my web presence. The obviously shoddy reporting by Kevin Hoover is rife with strikethrough, corrections, and overwhelming criticism in the comments. The article also is lacking in not just my side of the story, but also usage of the word “allegedly”. Hoover falsely reported the warrants were from an “incident at Robo’s McKinleyville residence,” after I, “called 911 for unknown reasons, and a deputy responded,” and that I “answered the door drunk.” A concealed weapon at one’s home is not even legally legitimate. Shannon Taylor noted in the article comments, “I KNOW Jason was NOT arrested at his residence is because he was otherwise engaged in a personal favor for me, house-sitting/caring for our pets in McKinleyville on June 10, 2010, while my husband and I traveled to attend a wedding. THAT’s where the McKinleyville location came into play as far as I can tell. Jason was biking on the 101 to MY HOME to honor his commitment, as I have cats who strangely like to be fed and watered on a daily basis!” Also my concealed weapon charge was as noted a wobbler, misdemeanor or felony. There was no indication that the DA was going to pursue it as a felony. Also the DNA charge was declared unconstitutional after defeated by the ACLU. Wobblers were liberally being used to collect DNA for a database.
Hoover blamed these anomalies on Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Brenda Godsey. Despite previously claims he doesn’t just “reprint the sheriff’s press release” when defending his journalism from my claims of journalistic ethical violations. “Kevin himself admitted he did NOT review any police report because ‘it’s in Eureka’ and he ‘didn’t drive down there,’” Shannon notes in one of the 72 comments in the article. Hoover’s lack of journalistic effort admission was from a recorded conversation I posted on my website. Even Hicks’ report stated he was responding to a “report of a bicyclist having been threatened with a knife”. Shannon points out Hoover’s failure noting, “there is the matter of that oh so pesky official report, which I actually bothered to read. I’m sorry, but when your trip is interrupted due to your house-sitter’s arrest and subsequent inability to complete the job, you tend to take an interest in the circumstances.”
Hoover, possibly Godsey, lied. I think it is easy to draw a conclusion judging from not just the inaccuracy of reporting, but the second half inaccurately attacking my character. I will get to that after exploring the commentary on the article. Mr. Zack writes off the vile arrest article commenting, “Seems to me like a pretty fair and even-handed account considering the boycott that Robo tried to pull against the very newspaper that wrote this.” Shannon responded “So, because Jason organized a boycott against Kevin’s business, retaliation with false facts is kinda okay. Good to know.” launched a boycott against The Arcata Eye after Hoover’s assistance filming a mainstream media special perpetuating the prohibitionst propaganda. Hoover was undoubtedly pleased to publish this on April 20th, 2011. At no point was I afforded a chance for my actions and opinions he would portray negatively.
Former employee of the North Coast Journal and HSU’s Marketing and Communications David Lawlor commented:
Instead of removing the incorrect information in your story and replacing it with the correct information as any newspaper would do, you chose to just put a line through the lies you published and leave them for everyone to view. I guess slander doesn’t count when you put a line through the slanderous statement. Dude you would be awesome as the editor of a vitriolic, whining, immature high school newspa…oh, you already are.
“A minor factual error” is howHoover defended the article in a comment merely being inaccurate insofar only as the location of the incident. “It seems like more than location, to me commented Robert Benson in his assessment of the report he called, “Mere politically biased propaganda.” Benson continues, “I got the impression that Jason had called the police, over some unknown calamity, and was, incoherently, drunk, when the officer responded to arrest him for having a concealed weapon – which provides the negative image of someone who gets too drunk and, recklessly, carries a large concealed knife, while yelling at officers (threat to society).” Mark Sailors seemed to buy the story being skeptical that the HCSO, “would waste time or money arresting someone as prominent and vocal as J-Ro on a DIP [Drunk In Public], unless they could prove he was wasted, AND a danger to himself or the public, or was somehow making a road or walkway unusable.” My dismissal was announced in the comments, since Hoover did not have the nerve to note that in limited edits to the article. Sailors commented, “Just another example of why you should NEVER take the plea.”
Lawlor commented in response to Hoover, “I disagree with you that we are discussing simple typos here … the allegation that Jason answered the door drunk and slurred something about his knife. That paints him in a very poor light and the problem with the statement is that it never happened! … Kevin, I do not know you well, but I feel like you are a mean spirited person. On Jason’s website there is a recording of your phone conversation with him; you sound so arrogant, flippant and jerkish. What’s the deal? Is it just your personality or do you really hate Jason and the homeless and growers and etc.? A lot of people dislike you and I do not think it is solely because you are an investigative journalist uncovering everyone’s dirty laundry and just doing your job of exposing evil and corruption. So, what gives, why the smug attitude?”
One comment by Snuffleupagus coldy states, “Welcome to Journalism: You put yourself out there, expect to be slandered.
The article was also summarized on radio, on KSLG I believe, making me a victim of defamation via libel and slander. The shoddy arrest article was migrated to another website when his paper merged with the McKinleyville Press and formed the Mad River Union. The comments are no longer on the original, but are reposted on the Mad River Union. Despite numerous instances in which my name appeared in the Eye search results. Other one-sided coverage is conveniently absent from the site, as well as my op-ed response demanding retraction he should legally have been bound to do. I have two news clippings to prove prior coverage. The sole exception of Hoover’s Orwellian search result memory hole is a larger article with a snippet about my boycott against the Eye, or the “LEye” as I liked to call it. My boycott was titled “Goodbye to the Eye”, wordplay later used on the cover of his final paper September 25th, 2013.
Hoover’s negative reporting caught me off-guard years earlier. “Quad-wad goes full-bore” is the title of one feature. Another article included part of my public comment at an Arcata city council meeting discussion on growhouses. I critiqued HSU president Rollin Richmond’s anti-cannabis stance comment to the council. Hoover’s article on my arrest is a vast wasteland of half-truths and falsehoods, so I may post a more thorough response on another page.
Character attacks and portrayals are ride in the article which started calling me an “activist” despite my transition into journalism. An image Hoover used was a picture of me reporting with the caption “Jason Robo interrogates a tired but patient Bill Ayers at Northtown Books.” He wrote that I “aggressively questioned Ayers about his father, Thomas G. Ayers’ service on the boards of defense contractor General Dynamics Corp. and G.D. Searle & Company.” Sounds like I was actually doing investigative journalism. After graduating from HSU I morphed my KRFH news radio show, Unstacking the Deck, into a video format with a fellow political science graduate Kyle Beattie. Hoover wrote about my show, “He presents his observations and theories on an Internet video program.” My co-host is not mentioned I suspect since that would damage the “crazy lone nut” vibe that seems to be Hoover’s objective.
Other press coverage that was lone-nut-tish in spirit was my arrest in Boston in 2008 for stickers urging others to question the official story of 9/11. Hoover perpetuated the false claim that I was charged with “interference with aircraft operation.” This was a piece of code, not a crime. As my lawyer in that case noted in the motion for dismissal, a crime cannot simply be created on the whim of law enforcement creatively parsing portions of statutes.” This claims about my 9/11 sticker incident also fails to use the word allegedly. I will chronicle this incident in another post.
Hoover’s perpetual negative portrayals of myself persist as he notes I was “an HSU student representative,” which doesn’t sound quite as legitimate as Legislative Vice President and Chair. I defeated the son of Wes Chesbro, a former state assemblyman and state senator. My impeachment did not follow due process. As for failing to meet academic standards I was put on disciplinary probation in a rather literall kangaroo court. As a result I was actually banned from being an officer in clubs or student government, even committees, after my ineligibility ruling and removal from an election to president. So that pretty much ended my activism and I began reporting for the Lumberjack and was also DJing my new program Unstacking the Deck on KRFH.
Ultimately, the reporting was more than insult added to injury. Also now during a time where “defund the police” is a movement, what kind of message does this send to citizens who want to keep their community safe when they see a threat? Should they fear an unjust arrest, extorted to escape a cage with murderers, and months of misery? For trying to address a threat to motorists and probably himself the only knife in my backside was the one from law enforcement and Hoover backstabbing me. If you have read this far then I hope anyone with a brain and a heart can see that I don’t deserve to be seen in any villainous light resulting from well-meaning effort to protect others.