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Cop dodges court as DNA shatters lie that arrested man had spliff
BY INGRID BROWN Associate Editor — Special Assignment [email protected]
Friday, May 17, 2013

IT took a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) test and 21 trips to the Spanish Town Resident Magistrate’s Court for Robert Brown to prove that a ganja spliff presented to the judge by the police was not his.
But that vindication was not before the 39-year-old was forced to flee his community, shut down his business and withdraw his son from a top high school as he spent the last two years cowering in fear for his life.
Today, although there is no longer any criminal charge hanging over his head, Brown said he is yet to pick up the pieces of his life as it was totally shattered by a lying cop whose threat to kill him sent him into hiding.
Brown, a resident of James Mountain just outside Sligoville, St Catherine, said on July 16, 2010 he was at his roadside cookshop preparing the daily low-budget menu when a group of policemen requested a search of him on the grounds that they smelt ganja. Brown said he admitted to the police that he smokes ganja but did not have any in his possession.
According to Brown, he was still taken to the nearby Sligoville Police Station for processing. It is then that things went awry after one constable accused him of “romping wid police” when he (Brown) held his ears to demonstrate that the name of the lane where he lives is called ‘aze hole’ (ears hole). Brown said the disbelieving cop became irate and began raining blows on him before slapping a ganja possession charge on him.
“Him put all him big shoes in me chest,” Brown recalled, adding, “when dem teck me up that day ah four pot me have on fire ah fry chicken back, sprat fish, and a cook soup and everyting bun up.”
However, when the matter went to court, Brown pleaded not guilty and was given a date to return.
Less than two months later, Brown said he was again at his shop when members of another police patrol searched him and found an unlit spliff in his possession. Brown said while he was at the Sligoville Police Station awaiting his bail to be processed, a female cop said: “See di man yah weh go court go plead not guilty”.
Brown said he told her not to discuss the matter as it was still before the court.
He said that by this time, the constable, who had earlier lied about him having a spliff, pulled his chair closer to him in a threatening manner. Brown said as he got up from the chair to speak with the policeman who was processing the bail, the constable shoved him so hard that he and the chair fell to the ground, leaving him with a huge gash to his head. As he fell to the ground, Brown said his hand touched the policeman’s mouth. That was when all hell broke loose as Brown said he was again savagely beaten by the officer.
Brown’s brother, Exton Brown, who had by then received the bail bond, told the Jamaica Observer that the document was immediately taken from him and torn up.
“After the police done beat him up, him say to me father, “Rastaman, ah figet me figet me did have me gun pon me.”
The police later took Robert Brown to the Spanish Town Hospital to treat his bleeding head and fractured arm. While there, Brown said, he told the doctor that his injuries were caused by “police brutality”, but that only made it worse for him as the cop again began to beat him.
“The police all ah draw me on the hospital floor and ah beat me,” Brown said, adding that he was later taken to the Spanish Town Police Station and charged with possession of ganja and assaulting a police officer.
When he appeared in court for the second offence, Brown plead guilty to possessing the spliff confiscated during that arrest and was fined $100. He, however, again plead not guilty to possessing a ganja spliff on the first occasion and for assaulting the officer. It was then, he said, that the policeman produced a spliff to the court, which he claimed Brown was smoking when he was first arrested.
However, a complaint to the cop’s superiors would be the beginning of the nightmare which turned his world upside as Brown said the policeman started to harass and further threaten his life. Fearful for his safety, Brown said he was forced to shut down his then lucrative cook shop, lay off the workers and go into hiding.
With no income, he was also forced to transfer his son from Calabar High School to Spanish Town High as he could not afford to keep him there, given the mounting legal cost to prove his innocence. In addition, he had to sell his motor vehicle to offset some of the cost.
But through it all, Brown said he was motivated to prove his innocence because of his son.
“Me remember the day when GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) result come out and him run come say him get him first choice. Me was so happy fi him, and to see that me had to deprive him of what him work so hard for, it really hurt me,” an overwhelmed Brown said.
“Is only now me get back a little joy because the other day me ah talk to him about going back to Calabar and him tell me say is not the school you go but how you perform, and ah that help me fi stop feeling so bad,” he said, adding that his son, who is now in grade 10, is preparing to sit two CSEC subjects this year.
During the numerous visits to court, Brown said he was frustrated at not being able to convince the court that he did not have a spliff on the first day he was arrested, as it was the police’s word against his. However, it was after the 12th trip to the court that Brown’s nephew, Jermaine Hunt, gave him the brilliant idea of requesting the court to order a DNA test.
“One day we there talking and me say how me going to prove me innocence that me never have no spliff that day, when everybody know say me is a smoker, and that is when me nephew suggest that me could do a DNA,” Brown told the Observer.
“Even him own lawyer did seem to think he was guilty until I came up with the idea of the DNA,” his nephew added.
“The day when me lawyer tell the judge that I want a DNA, even she smile and say well, that normally happen in the US but not in Jamaica. When she say dat, the police dem had dis smile on dem face until when she say ‘but I will grant it’. The smile wipe off ah dem face immediately,” Brown recalled.
Brown said he managed to scrape together the $43,000 to pay for the DNA to be done at Caribbean Genetics on the University of the West Indies, Mona campus in Kingston.
The police, Brown said, never returned to court after the DNA was ordered, despite being subpoenaed some six times by the judge. On the cops’ seventh no-show, the judge dismissed the case for lack of prosecution.
A few weeks after this decision, Brown received the DNA results, a copy of which was obtained by the Observer, which clearly excluded him from being in possession of the illegal substance.
Brown said he feels cheated out of the opportunity to be vindicated in the court and for action to be taken against the lying cop, who has since been promoted to corporal.
Although he has recently reopened his business, Brown said he is still fearful for his life, especially since his complaints to the Police Complaints Authority resulted in the removal of the policeman from the division.
Brown said he filed the second complaint after the cop again visited his cookshop, requesting a search, even after the matter was disposed of in the court.
Despite being fearful of any further repercussion from the police, Brown said he is telling his story not only to highlight the injustice but to show that there are a lot of innocent persons who have been framed by the police.
“If dem can bring a spliff before the court say is mine, then you can just imagine what other evidence them plant on others,” he said.
Brown, who said he has been told that he was the first person to request such a DNA through the Jamaican courts, said he is also delighted to know that he was able to pave the way for others who are so wronged.
“Me know say him may still come after me and me tell everybody; so if anything happen to me, them will know, but I want this opportunity to tell the world that I was speaking the truth that me never have any spliff that day,” he said.



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