Entertainer Tommy Lee Sparta was yesterday ordered to be released from police custody after spending more than a week in police lock-up.
When the matter was brought before the St James Parish Court, the judge said the deejay was improperly detained under the state of public emergency and was to be freed immediately.
This is not the first time the deejay has been held in police custody without official charges being laid against him.
The incident has once again brought the police’s tactics into question.
Last year, entertainer Alkaline was also held in police custody for a number of days before being released without charge.
Speaking with The STAR, attorney-at-law Christopher Townsend expressed disgust at the police’s inability to build their cases before bringing persons into custody.
He also explained that, unfortunately, this happens to regular citizens daily, but “entertainers make this thing visible”.
“It has always been my view that we live in a police state; a policeman come, scrape you up, keep you for days, then release you because they have nothing,” he said. “What you need to do as the law is investigate properly before you go and collar people because you look like an idiot when you do, unless the police force has no issues with looking like an idiot.”
Townsend said that until someone makes an example of the force for imposing on their rights, the situation will only perpetuate itself.
Queen’s Counsel Valerie Neita Robertson agreed, saying Jamaicans need to be educated about their rights.
“They don’t readily seek to protect themselves and that’s why police can do the things they do and get away with it. In the United States, if you do this foolishness, you end up in court and have to pay thousands of dollars in damages but not in Jamaica,” she said. “I don’t know what the police wanted him (Tommy Lee) for, but if what they wanted him for didn’t amount to anything that showed he was actually involved, he should take some action. That is a matter involving his reputation.”
However, the lawyers urged entertainers to recognise that as public figures, they become easy targets and encouraged them to stay away from crime.
“Usually, if it is that your name is being called, the police will have an interest in you,” said Townsend. “Entertainers must recognise that they are in a different setting now. If you engage in criminal activities while you’re an entertainer, the law will respond.”
Robertson urged the police not to damage the trust with the public as they will need the help of some of the same people they violate if they are to effectively fight crime.
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