By Latrishka Thomas
A well-known local naturalist accused of threatening to kill his neighbour, had to represent himself at his court trial yesterday when his lawyer did not show up.
Imhotep Heru Odada Shango-L – also named Nasir Odada Harris – was charged with disorderly conduct, indecent language, insulting language, threatening language and obstruction on September 25, 2020 after his neighbour reported the apparent threats.
A video that preceded Harris’ arrest was widely circulated on Facebook and caused the arresting officers to come under public criticism for the manner in which they handled the situation.
Police are said to have visited Harris’ home with a search warrant after the neighbour made the complaint.
In June this year, Harris, most commonly known as ‘Shango’, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and was ordered to return to court yesterday for his trial.
But his lawyer Sherfield Bowen did not appear and apparently did not provide the magistrate with an excuse. As a result, the court proceeded with the case.
The first witness, a corporal of police, testified that on September 23, 2020, he and other officers went to Harris’ Cassada Gardens house with a warrant. A lady who looked through the window was informed of the warrant.
The witness said that the woman took a while to open the door but when she did, the warrant was read to the defendant who was also in the house.
According to him, the defendant started shouting, telling them to get out of his home and claiming they did not have a signed warrant. Consequently, Harris was placed in handcuffs.
He then called his young son and told him “not to respect the police because they are heathens,” the officer told the court.
Harris then began “stamping his feet and chanting” and a female occupant of the house joined in by pounding a drum.
The defendant chose not to question this witness.
The second witness, a constable from the Special Service Unit, gave evidence to the effect that an elderly woman reported that Harris threatened to shoot and kill her, prompting officers to go to his home.
He said that they were not invited in, nor did Harris come out of his home, so they obtained a search warrant for a firearm and ammunition and returned.
The constable said that after Harris was restrained, he began using indecent language saying that the police are “dogs who are afraid to die. I am not afraid to die because I am already dead”.
The defendant then started to beat the floor with a large stick, chanted and instructed other members of his household to follow the police everywhere and videotape them.
Unlike the other witness, Harris asked the officer how he was able to beat a stick on the floor while in handcuffs, and the witness demonstrated.
He also asked why the officers searched the house but did not take him around with them and the constable told the court that “there were other adults in the areas being searched”.
The trial was then adjourned to September 20 at which time the final witness, another officer, will take the stand.