A judge directed a jury to return not-guilty verdicts on two brothers charged with assaulting police after finding that police officers’ testimonies in the case were contradictory and that one of the defendants had not been arrested.
Brothers Aaron Kenroy Solomon, 32, and Jaron Calvin Solomon, 29, were found not guilty last week after they were tried in Grand Court for assaulting police and threatening to kill them.
Justice Francis Belle directed the jury to return the not-guilty verdicts after defense attorneys argued there was no case for the brothers to answer when the Crown prosecutor had presented all of his evidence.
The brothers were charged after police went to their East End home on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, with a search warrant to seize a motorbike that allegedly had been ridden illegally on a public road the day before.
At the close of the Crown’s case, defense attorneys Amelia Fosuhene and Lee Halliday-Davis cited a well-known legal principle: If there is no evidence the defendant has committed the crime alleged, the judge will stop the case. The difficulty arises where there is some evidence, but it is of a tenuous character, for example, because of inherent weaknesses or vagueness or because it is inconsistent with other evidence.
Where the judge comes to the conclusion that the prosecution’s evidence is such that a jury could not properly convict upon it, it is his duty, upon a submission being made, to stop the case.
That is what Justice Belle did after referring to evidence the court had heard.
The judge said that when police attended the defendants’ home, Jaron Solomon attempted to leave through the back door on the motorbike the police were searching for.
This resulted in a physical confrontation, which officers described as a tussle or struggle. When officers held on to Jaron Solomon, his brother reached for a stone and police used a Taser on him.
Officers’ accounts of what happened differed in terms of the sequence of events, where various people were at certain times and what was said by the defendants. Each defense attorney referred to specific conflicts in the evidence.
The judge also noted that the evidence indicated that Jaron Solomon was not arrested. He said in his ruling that the officers never mentioned to Mr. Solomon that he was under arrest.
The Police Law was clear, he emphasized. Where a person is arrested, he is to be informed 1) that he is under arrest and 2) of the nature of the offense for which he is being arrested “as soon as is practicable” after his arrest. This applies “regardless of whether the fact of the arrest is obvious.”
The Police Law goes on to say that officers are not required to inform the person of the above if the person has escaped from arrest before the information could be given. The “no case” submission and ruling took place in the absence of the jury. When the jury returned, Justice Belle instructed them to return not-guilty verdicts.
After the jury was released, the judge commented to Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson: “You can only do the case that you are given.”
Mr. Ferguson replied: “And I intend to send out an email to the relevant senior officer of the RCIPS to instruct their service officers how to effect an arrest under the existing law of the Cayman Islands.”