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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

Officer Ahlers is a Bad Cop
by brent is found guilty
Friday Feb 1st, 2013 10:11 PM
Today I was found “guilty” of sitting on the sidewalk and ordered to pay $300.
The only problem is that I didn’t sit down....
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scpd-officer-travis-ahler...

Today I was found “guilty” of sitting on the sidewalk and ordered to pay $300.
The only problem is that I didn’t sit down until SCPD officer Travis Ahlers ordered me to sit down on the sidewalk.



I had been walking south on Pacific Ave. near the intersection of Laurel St. when I saw officer Ahlers talking to a man who was sitting on the ground. He said, “may I search your backpack?” At which point, from a distance of 10’ away I told the man that he didn’t have to allow the officer to search his belongings. “Tell him NO,” I said. Officer Ahlers turned towards me and told me to sit down and produce my ID. I asked him what the charge was and he said, “For sitting on the ground.”
“I wasn’t sitting down until you told me to sit,” I retorted. He said, “that’ll be for a judge to decide.” Later I found out that the man who was sitting down was under formal probation and was able to be legally searched even without being told before-hand. I didn’t know this when I was reminding him of his 4th Amendment right to the privacy of his person and all of his stuff. Had I known this, I would have said nothing to him.

Well today was my day in court. Since this is an infraction and wouldn’t be heard in a regular court I had commissioner Kim Baskett disqualified so that the case would be heard in a regular court and the officer would have to be sworn in. Finally, on my 5th visit to the courthouse since September on this matter the case was seen by judge Timothy Volkman. I was charged with:

9.50.012 SITTING DOWN ON SIDEWALKS IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES.
No person shall sit upon the following enumerated portions of a public sidewalk: (b)    Within fourteen feet of any building.

The officer said that the ordinance included “squatting” and then offered to tell the judge what the dictionary definition of “squatting” was. The judge declined hearing the definition. I read the ordinance aloud to high-light that it clearly reads “No person shall sit..” The officer said that my buttocks were within 8” of my heels.

With this, the judge found me guilty of sitting on the sidewalk and ordered that I pay $300. The judge said, “this will teach you to leave the police alone while they’re conducting their business.” I said that I’m not being charged with Obstructing an officer, but instead, Sitting on the ground which I obviously didn’t do. The judge said, “I’m siding with the ‘people’ that your are guilty.”

I said that I don’t have the money... I don’t have $10 and I can’t pay. Then I said “I won’t pay. This is not justice. This is a bad cop and you’re a bad judge.” I refused a payment plan or a work program.
I then left the court when the bailiff who was escorting me out said, “If you don’t pay it’ll be twice as much.”

It is true that at the end of this frustrating hearing that I lashed out in classic Brent Adams style. I really couldn’t believe my ears when I was found guilty. Yes, it is just an infraction and yes, its just $300 but isn’t it the principle of the thing? I had not been sitting and yet I was found guilty of sitting down. It is true that I don’t have the money to pay. I will check with the clerks office and try and get on a payment plan or a work program.
I am truly frustrated.