By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A MAN who was arraigned on an armed robbery charge in Grand Bahama yesterday accused police of beating him with a baseball bat while in custody and coercing him to sign a report.
The claims were made by Chauncey Smith, 23, who was arraigned with a 17-year-old boy, both of Freeport.
It is alleged that on May 28, at Freeport, Smith and the teen, while armed with a handgun, robbed Prestige Fresh Market 2 of $1,014 cash.
They were represented by Brian Hanna.
They were not required to enter a plea to the charge. Bail was denied and the matter was adjourned to September 23 for a preliminary inquiry.
During the arraignment, Deputy Chief Magistrate Debbye Ferguson asked if they had anything say. Smith told the court he wanted to make a police brutality report.
He claimed while at CDU officers had taken him to a room upstairs where they handcuffed him and turned off the light.
Smith claimed that officers came back in the room with a baseball bat wrapped with a soaked towel, and they hit him in his side and back. He also claimed the officers hit him in the face with a telephone book.
Smith also claimed that officers coerced him to sign a report.
“They put a report in front of me and told (me) if I signed it I will get to see my girlfriend, but I never see my girlfriend,” he told the judge.
He claimed he eventually signed the report out of fear of being beaten again. “They take me upstairs on Sunday, and I could not take it no more so I signed it,” he said.
Smith did appear to have some injuries on this face, including a swollen lip and a blister just above the cheek. He also stated the names of the officers in court.
He also claimed that he was not arrested at his residence at 5pm last Thursday as officers had reported, but rather at Bell Channel around 9pm.
Smith said he does not know the juvenile whom he is being charged with.
“I don’t even know this man. I didn’t even know he was a juvenile,” he told Deputy Chief Magistrate Ferguson.
The judge said she will have the matter looked into.
In reference to the juvenile, his aunt complained police officers had kept her nephew locked up in custody too long and described the ordeal as “torture” for them.
“It was like a torture because they had him locked up two and three days and did not charge him with anything. I want to know why they waited ‘til last night to charge him,” she asked.
The teen’s aunt said that police claim they have a video of her nephew in the act of committing the armed robbery, and wanted to know if they could see the video evidence.
The judge explained a police investigation takes time and the police have to investigate before they can charge someone with an offence. The judge further explained the police can continue to hold a suspect up to 72 hours.
“It is a torture for families and anyone who come through these walls; it feels like torture, but you are asking if he was illegally locked up, and the police has the authority to hold him,” she explained.
Smith was also charged with disorderly behaviour. It is alleged that on June 2, the accused acted in a disorderly manner while at Central Police Station.
Two other men were arraigned on armed robbery charges in the Freeport Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Frankie Seymour, 30, and Allen Simeon, 23, both of Freeport, appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Ferguson where they were charged with two counts of armed robbery and two counts of attempted armed robbery.
Seymour was represented by K Brian Hanna, and Simeon was represented by Ernie Wallace.
It is alleged that on May 30, at Freeport, the accused men being concerned together or with others unknown while armed with a handgun robbed Henry Guerrier of a wallet and personal items, including a NIB card, driver’s licence, and a Honda car key, together valued at $300.
It is also alleged that on the same date and place, the armed pair robbed Robyn Strachan of a handbag and other personal items, together valued at $226.
The men are also accused of attempting to rob Jordan Forbes and Arlette Fertil on the same date.
Seymour and Simeon were not required to enter a plea to the charges. A preliminary inquiry will be held to determine if there is sufficient evidence for them to stand trial in the Supreme Court.
Bail was denied and the matter was adjourned to September 23.