By Elesha George
A popular naturalist is facing several charges after his neighbour allegedly called the police to complain that he had been threatened.
Imhotep Heru Odada Shango-L also named Nasir Odada Harris was charged with indecent language, insulting language, threatening language and obstruction on Friday, September 25, 2020.
The video that preceded his arrest was widely circulated on Facebook two weekends ago and caused the arresting officers to come under public criticism for the manner in which they handled the situation.
Shango, as he is most popularly called, gave an account of the incident and told Observer that there had been an ongoing disagreement between him and his elderly German neighbour who complained that the uncut bushes near his home was attracting rats inside her residence.
“From the time she moved in, she had issues with the vegetation around my house because she said it’s breeding a lot of rats. So, she asked me to cut them down and I refused,” he noted.
“Then, she started throwing things in my yard. I caught her about three times throwing a white powder into the yard – in front of me,” he added.
Shango, who resides in Cassada Gardens, said he refused to cut his vegetation because he believed that it was not contributing to whatever problem the woman had since none of his other neighbours had that complaint.
However, at about 7 pm on Wednesday, September 23, the man said he approached the woman who he had been told threw more of the substance into his yard. He was warning her not to do it again when a Caucasian man who lives in the community and who he likened to a vagrant, questioned him about what had happened.
“He is not somebody that I talk to really, but he asked me ‘did she throw something over your fence?’ and I was stupid enough to say ‘yes’ to him.”
It was then Shango said the man started using indecent language to discredit his claim that the woman had in fact thrown something into his yard. The man also made a call he said, telling Observer that he suspected that the call was to the police.
He warned them one last time about desecrating his yard then returned inside his house.
Moments later, he said two police officers were on the street and called on him to come outside.
Shango, who was otherwise indisposed, said his partner went outside to speak with the officers in his absence. The officers, he recalled refused to speak with her and demanded to speak with him instead.
At that point Shango said he came just outside his house and invited the officers in – they refused to enter the man’s home.
“I refused to go to the middle of the street to speak with the police and it’s because of an experience I had before,” he shared, adding that he was happy that the police was there to warn his neighbour.
About 45 minutes later, several more police officers descended on his property – four of whom would later gain entry into the house.
“I heard them kicking on my door trying to break my door down and I was so afraid of losing the door because I don’t want them to put me in no extra expense, so I told the young lady to hurry up and open up that door,” he told Observer,
“From the time she open the door, they just push her down – just shoved her out of the way,” he stressed, adding that the officers said they had a warrant but did not present or read it to him.
He later found out that the warrant was for suspicion that he may have a firearm and ammunition in his possession.
“It’s something in my spirit. I just don’t believe that these people mentioned nothing about a gun because no gun, no firearm came up in none of the conversations. He [the Caucasian man] didn’t mention nothing about gun, I didn’t mention nothing about gun – all I said was make it be the last time and go about my business,” the naturalist explained.
The remainder of the incident was recorded on that now viral video recording and it shows the officers inside the man’s home looking to carry out an arrest ordered by the Magistrate’s Court.
Three police officers dressed in uniform and one dressed in task force attire are seen inside with Shango and his partner.
Shango was sitting on a couch while police officers placed handcuffs on him, but failed to tell him why he was being arrested.
The woman, who resides in the United States, was recording the incident and constantly questioned the officers about the reason for the arrest, but she received no explanation.
One officer simply said “he’s going with us”, as the victim, too, asked why he was being arrested.
That same officer then proceeded to question the woman about certain artifacts inside the home, asking the woman if she practiced witchcraft.
“What is all this stuff in this house, are you practicing witchcraft?” he asked.
The woman denied practicing “anything” – and almost immediately, the officer called upon one of his colleagues, to call the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
“Aye, let me tell you something, call CID,” he signalled to the fellow officer.
The officer giving the commands then noticed that he was being recorded and quickly pushed the phone away from the woman’s hand.
There was a scuffle and the phone dropped to the ground, and the police officer picked it up as the woman called on him to hand her back her phone.
The woman, who then requested her lawyer, was told by two officers that she was now “under arrest”.
In the end she was not arrested but Shango told Observer that her phone was initially confiscated because she refused to delete the video on the officer’s command.
He said it was traumatising “to sit there and watch them wrestle with her as a woman, tossing her down on the ground”, particularly because he was in handcuffs and could do nothing to help the situation.
Observer reached out to Police Public Relations Officer, Inspector Frankie Thomas regarding the conduct of the officers in the video and whether action would be taken against them.
He said the police are aware of the situation and are investigating it.