Details of Commerce City Council Confrontation Documented in Sheriff’s Report
By Kristin Grafft and Randy Economy
A police report outlining specific details of a heated scuffle between at least four Commerce City officials at a local restaurant reveals conflicting accounts of the events that took place after a raucous council meeting earlier that evening.
The incident was first reported by Hews Media Group-Community News one week ago Tuesday online, in-print Friday.
The incident report, from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s East LA Station, was obtained exclusively by HMG-CN yesterday.
The parties listed on the report included Councilman Ivan Altamirano, Councilwoman Tina Baca Del Rio, City Attorney Eddie Olivo as well as Richard Robles, the husband of Councilwoman Denise Robles.
The incident unfolded at approximately 1:30 a.m. according to report written by Sergeant J. Gonzalez.
Gonzalez stated that Commerce Councilwoman Denise Robles said that she was being “accused by City of Commerce in regards to using the city vehicles for personal use (in the past).”
After the meeting, Robles and her husband drove by Steven’s Steakhouse located off of Interstate 5 where she noticed city owned cars in the parking lot of the well-known establishment at around 1:30 a.m.
The report said that Robles commented: “What could they be possibly doing at Steven’s Steakhouse at this time that could be work related.”
The reports detail how the Robles’ stopped their car and went inside the restaurant “to confront ‘party’ Altamirano, ‘witness’ Del Rio, and ‘witness’ Olivo in regards to the use of city vehicles for personal use.”
Once inside Steven’s, Richard Robles “immediately started to photograph” the two elected officials and Olivo as they sat at a table. Altamirano said that Robles said: “This is how I wanted to catch you.”
After the political rivals took photos of each other with their cell phones, Richard Robles told Altamirano, “From now on you need to watch your back and you’re family needs to watch his back.”
Altamirano told Sheriff officials that he “felt his life along with his families lives were being threatened by (Richard) Robles’s statements.” The group immediately left the front door of the restaurant and a heated argument erupted outside.
“Quick, call the Sheriff’s,” Robles was overheard as stating while outside. Olivo and Baca Del Rio went back inside Steven’s and they too called the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station to report the incident.
When Sheriff’s Deputies arrived, a waitress who witnessed what took place between the city officials was questioned about what her account of the situation.
Waitress July Wittingham, 30, also told Sheriff’s that she heard Richard Robles tell Altamirano that he “was a girl.” The waitress said she didn’t think the behavior between the two was a problem, and that “the two were friends conversing.” Wittingham also confirmed in the report that she heard Richard Robles tell Councilman Altamirano to “watch his back.”
City Attorney Olivo said he “could not hear” what Altamirano and Robles were arguing about due to the “noise from surrounding persons”, despite, according to Robles, being only a few feet away.
Sheriff officials went to the Robles residence after the incident, the report said.
“Party Robles said that party Altamirano stood up from his seat and noticed he was drunk,” the report states.
Robles said that Altamirano “approached him and said “you’re an ass****, I should kick your ass.”
“Party Robles said he put his hands in his pockets to demonstrate he did not want to fight and would not strike him,” the report states.
The report also describes Altamirano as telling Richard Robles that, “you’re a bit**, like you wife (Councilwoman Denise Robles).”
“I’m not the one who called myself a little girl tonight in the council chambers,” Richard Robles stated in this police report. Robles said that both Councilwoman Baca Del
Rio and City Attorney Olivo told Altamirano to “stop, stop, stop” during their argument.
Sheriff officials stated that in the report that they opted not to make an arrest of the above-mentioned Parties for Possible Criminal Threats as describe in 422 (a) Penal Code.
Sheriff’s Sergeant J. Gonzalez was also “notified of the incident and also agreed to not make an arrest at this time taking into account circumstances at hand, and the lack of the incident meeting the elements of statute 422(a) Penal Code.
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