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On Your Side: Did Yerington police mishandle racial bullying investigation?

Charles and Nancy Tolliver say their daughters have been subjected to racially-based bullying in Yerington. (SBG)
Charles and Nancy Tolliver say their daughters have been subjected to racially-based bullying in Yerington. (SBG)
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Charles Tolliver and wife Nancy say their daughters, who are mixed race, have been the targets of repeated verbal attacks. They say some the incidents happened at their daughters' school, Yerington High, and some happened off campus as well.

"They were called the n-word, both of my girls," Nancy told us during an interview at our station last month.

Nancy says there have also been physical threats.

"She was going to beat my girls until her knuckles were bloody," she said.

But perhaps most concerning are several posts which have shown up on social media. One of them shows a young man armed with what appears to be a rifle and the words "We bout to go n***** huntin'."

Charles and Nancy say that post and others were clearly targeting their daughters.

"I'm a black man, I've heard the word, I'm old enough to know what it means," Charles told us.

Lonnie Feemster, the state director for Nevada's NAACP, says this kind of behavior simply can't be tolerated in any community.

"When someone says 'We want to go hunt the n-word,' meaning the racial slur, that is considered pretty abominable," Feemster said.

The Lyon County School District says it has taken the appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved, but the school district would not provide more specific details.

Meantime, there are growing questions about how the Yerington Police Department has handled this case.

Police Chief Darren Wagner says the alleged threats do not amount to a crime. He claims this kind of behavior is considered freedom of speech.

But the Chief would not comment on allegations that some of the statements filed by the Tollivers were shredded by the Yerington Police Department. He declined repeated requests for an on-camera interview with News 4.

"That's why they shredded our paperwork, is because they said there was no crime involved," Nancy explained. She says a Yerington Police officer told her the chief instructed him to shred the statements the family submitted to the police department.

Yerington Mayor George Dini declined to go on camera, but he said he and the city council stand behind the police chief on this issue. But when asked if he knows whether any documents connected to this investigation had been destroyed, the mayor told us during our visit to Yerington that he had no comment on that.

However, several days later, the mayor did decide to comment.

In fact, Mayor Dini called News 4 and said: "A Yerington Police officer did shred the police reports, but we have determined it was an honest mistake and nothing more."

The mayor insists the police chief was not involved in the destruction of any documents.

But Lonnie Feemster is still concerned.

"I think if someone filed several police reports in a month, that they would not be shredded," he said.

For the Tollivers, concerns about racial bullying are now compounded by frustrations over how police have handled this investigation.

They wonder what it will take for city leaders in Yerington to take a stand against racial bullying and threats so that everyone feels welcome in their city.

Charles Tolliver says consequences are necessary for this kind of behavior.

"I just want the kids to be held accountable," he said.

As for those police reports that got shredded, the mayor tells us they have been re-created and have now been sent to the Lyon County District Attorney.

The Tollivers have also filed a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General's office.

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We have reached out numerous times to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt's office, but we have not received any response.

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