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Robinson says police overdid search that resulted in marijuana citation

August 1, 1997

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ For NBA free agent Clifford Robinson, it was a strange saga of police, paintball and pot.

Less than 24 hours after police stopped his Humvee with a roadblock on the downtown Portland waterfront, Robinson worried about his image and wondered if it was really necessary for officers to take such extreme measures.

Robinson, in a telephone conference call with reporters Thursday, also said the small amount of marijuana found by police in the vehicle was not his. He told The Oregonian that it belonged to his brother, Torey.

``If you look and see how wide that Hummer is, the marijuana was found in the passenger door armrest,″ Robinson said. ``If it was mine, I don’t see why I would put it all the way over there.″

Police cited Robinson for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana because it was found in his vehicle. The charge is a non-criminal offense similar to a traffic ticket, with a maximum fine of $1,000.

Robinson was driving. His brother and two friends were riding inside. Police said they used a ``high-risk″ strategy to stop the Humvee on Wednesday evening after receiving reports that a man in the vehicle had a gun.

Police discovered four paintball guns in the Humvee.

``We have information we have to go on and, for the officers’ safety and for the safety of the public, we have to do that stop by the numbers,″ Portland police spokesman Lt. Cliff Madison said.

Just two weeks ago, a Portland police officer was shot to death while chasing an assault suspect.

``I understand that a police officer was shot, and I feel bad for his partners and for his family,″ Robinson said. ``But at the same time, they shouldn’t treat me like I’m getting ready to pull a gun on someone when that’s the last thing on my mind. The only gun I own is a paintball gun.″

Robinson said he, his brother and his friends were on their way to play in a paintball league when they were stopped by a roadblock on Front Avenue, a main thoroughfare along the downtown waterfront.

``The next thing I knew, there were 10 cop cars around us with guns pointing at us in the middle of Front,″ Robinson said. ``I didn’t know what’s going on. I was totally scared. This has never happened to me before.″

Robinson said police ordered him and the other three to hold up their hands and slowly back out of the vehicle. They were told to lie down on the ground and were handcuffed.

Madison said officers did not know it was Robinson until he got out of the vehicle, and it wouldn’t have made any difference if they had known. He said Robinson was ``very cooperative.″

Robinson said the marijuana that was found was a ``tiny amount.″

Robinson became a free agent this summer after playing all eight of his NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. He said he hoped this incident would not harm his attempts to sign with the Blazers or another team.

He said he was concerned that people would see the run-in as another example of misbehavior by a team that has been referred to as the ``Jail Blazers″ because several players have had run-ins with the law.

``This perception of our team is that we have a bunch of guys who are shady individuals,″ Robinson said. ``I don’t do anything but try my best to represent myself, represent the Trail Blazers and represent Portland on and off the court as best as I can.″

The Oregon Legislature recently re-criminalized possession of marijuana. Beginning Oct. 1, it is a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.