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College Party Row Ends Up In Court

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A POLICEMAN told the court that a student-leader, for whom he and his colleagues had been called to the College of the Bahamas campus, accused him and his fellow officers of being slaves to the “black man” and “the government.”

When asked by the police prosecutor if the student-leader, during an alleged tirade in the computer lab of the library, called a name in reference to his statement, Corporal 1486 Keith Sweeting answered: “Hubert Ingraham.”

The accused, 22-year-old Renbert Mortimer, looked on as the officer gave testimony about the incident in question, which took place on February 2 shortly before 10pm.

Mortimer was arraigned before Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell the following day, his birthday, on six charges, including disorderly behaviour, assault, abusive language and resisting arrest.

It is claimed that he acted in a disorderly manner, used abusive language against security and police, resisted arrest and assaulted a police officer and security at the college.

He denied the charges and pleaded not guilty.

In yesterday’s proceedings, Cpl Sweeting took the stand to give evidence about his involvement in the case.

Cpl Sweeting told the court that on the night in question, he was on mobile patrol in the Grove division with Constables 3022 Russell and 3312 Roxberry when they received a radio transmission giving them “certain information.”

“As a result of the information, I proceeded, along with the mentioned officers, to the Tucker Road entrance of COB,” the court was told.

The officer said he spoke to a security guard who gave him additional information and “as a result, I was directed to the computer lab section.”

“On entering that building, I observed a male, who I later found out to be the president of COBUS, Mr Mortimer.”

“Do you see him in the court?” the police prosecutor interrupted with the question.

“Yes,” said the officer, pointing to the accused sitting in the front row.

“Mr Mortimer,” the policeman continued, “was speaking very loud.”

The officer, who said he was in plain clothes at the time, said he attempted to engage the student-leader and inform him of his reason for being there.

“He just stated to me don’t touch him. ‘Don’t touch me.’ He said that he was not going anywhere,” the court was told, as Cpl Sweeting added that this exchange continued for a while.

It was at this point that Sweeting repeated Mortimer’s comments about being slaves.

“He just told us we are slaves to the black man, slaves to the government,” the court heard.

“Did he give a name when he said that,” the prosecutor asked.

“Hubert Ingraham,” the policeman answered.

The officer continued his testimony that a student tried to calm the accused down, but was also rebuked by Mortimer.

“Mr Mortimer picked up a black chair and slammed it to the ground violently,” Cpl Sweeting said.

“I again reached out to inform him of his disorderly behaviour — as many had warned him of earlier— would not be tolerated.”

The prosecutor asked if he called for assistance and the officer said he did. Cpl Sweeting claimed officers put Mortimer under arrest, but “he was resisting by holding onto the furniture and other equipment of the lab.”

The officer said that it was only after some of his fellow students spoke to him that the student-leader eventually released his hold on the furniture.

“To your knowledge, was he cautioned?” the prosecutor asked.

“At the time, I can’t recall,” the officer said.

The prosecutor asked the witness to describe Mortimer’s actions during the alleged tirade and he answered: “He was very loud, very belligerent in his behaviour, not adhering to the instructions of the police officer.”

“He didn’t comply with the students?” the prosecutor asked.

“No, sir,” the policeman replied.

In cross-examination, defending attorney Elliot Lockhart questioned the corporal about his involvement.

“You arrest him, Renbert?” Mr Lockhart asked.

“That would’ve been officer Roxberry who told him he was under arrest,” the corporal answered.

“But you also arrested him?” the attorney asked again.

“Yes,” the corporal answered.

“You mentioned a chair. How did he slam it?” Mr Lockhart asked.

“He pick it up and slam it back down. When I approached him, that’s when he sat in it,” the officer answered.

“So he never threw it down?” the attorney asked.

“He never threw it down,” the officer answered while shaking his head.

Mr Lockhart asked the officer if his client had to be lifted out of the lab to be transported to the police station.

“He wasn’t lifted out,” the officer answered.

Mr Lockhart had no further questions. The trial was adjourned to October 29 with the continuation of the prosecution’s case.

Mortimer is on $5,000 bail.

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