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Teenager says he wasn’t drunk when gunman opened fire

Teenage gun victim Jahrockia Smith-Hassell admitted drinking liquor and smoking cannabis in the hours leading up to his shooting but denied being drunk by the time the gunman appeared.

The 17-year-old claims he was sober enough to identify Royunde Stevens Cyrus as the man who shot him three times on the night of March 25.

However, Mr Cyrus’s lawyer, Shade Subair, maintained Mr Smith-Hassell never saw the shooter’s face, and knew Mr Cyrus was not the man but was determined to make someone pay.

The victim was 16 when he was gunned down while socialising outside his Rambling Lane, Pembroke residence.

Mr Cyrus, 24, has denied attempted murder and using a firearm to commit an indictable offence.

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Mr Smith-Hassell admitted he’d been drinking Chivas and Hennessy and smoked five or six joints through the course of the day he was shot.

He denied taking part in gang activity but admitted he had close friends involved in the Island’s gang scene.

Earlier in the trial he testified that his older brother, Tafari, who no longer resides in Bermuda, had moved to St Monica’s Road in part because “Parkside people” had been determined to kill him.

The victim agreed that neither he nor his brother had received personal threats from Mr Cyrus

“You see glamour in the gang life, don’t you?” Ms Subair asked him. Mr Smith-Hassell replied: “No.”

“But you admit you have a few personal enemies that have nothing to do with your brother Tafari.”

Mr Smith-Hassell answered: “A few do, and a few don’t.”

He told the court that he did not think his two or three personal enemies disliked him strongly enough to wish him physical harm.

The jury then viewed an extensive album of Facebook pictures showing the witness and friends, some of whom were present on Rambling Lane in the lead-up to the shooting, signifying with their hands the “signs” of different groups and neighbourhoods around Bermuda.

The victim denied being an admirer of US gangs such as the Crips and Bloods.

Ms Subair compared this week’s testimony with the victim’s earlier statements to police and evidence provided to a Magistrates’ Court inquiry in August.

At the preliminary inquiry, Mr Smith-Hassell told the court: “Parkside means nothing really to me. Parkside is a gang, you lot say, but it’s just a place where people chill.”

Mr Smith-Hassell agreed that he stood by the statement.

On the night of the shooting, the victim and his friends were approached by two men who asked for a cigarette.

In the Supreme Court trial, Mr Smith-Hassell described the pair as staring at them, and giving “dirty looks” to one of his friends. He admitted that he had not provided these details to police, when they questioned him as he recovered in hospital from the shooting.

Ms Subair continued: “This man who appeared on Rambling Lane and shot you that was the same person who appeared earlier in company with someone, and asked for cigarettes?”

Mr Smith-Hassell agreed, and said he had been able to see their faces.

He said he saw a lone man walking nearby approximately 30 minutes after that encounter. The man, whom Mr Smith-Hassell maintains was Mr Cyrus, then approached him on Rambling Lane.

Charging that the victim “knew full well” that Mr Cyrus wasn’t his shooter, Ms Subair charged: “In your mind, you associate Royunde with Parkside. And it’s good enough for you, in terms of seeing your justice through, to see to it that somebody from Parkside goes down for this, right?”

Ms Subair suggested Mr Cyrus had passed down Rambling Lane earlier, at 11.15pm, accompanied by a man named Jerry, and had greeted members of their group. The witness denied this.

Taking a June 19 posting from Mr Hassell-Smith’s Facebook page, Ms Subair quoted: “You b*** n****s better hope I don’t get trans today, I am f***ing serious, you lot will see, you lot think you shot me and got away with it, OK cool think that.”

She asked why he had posted it given that Mr Cyrus was already in police custody for attempted murder.

“The person I was addressing it to was in Westgate,” the witness replied.

“You have many enemies, don’t you? And these enemies have wanted to cause you physical harm for a long time, and prior to your shooting.”

Mr Smith-Hassell denied this.

Ms Subair continued: “There is a concept that you are familiar with in gang terminology, where if I can’t get you, I’ll get one of your people. Know what I mean by that? I’m suggesting that’s what happened to you when you were shot. Somebody couldn’t get your brother, so they went for you.” The witness agreed.

“That’s what you’re doing now to Royunde. You can’t get the shooter, but you will get what you consider to be one of the shooter’s group.”

The case continues.

Royunde Cyrus (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published November 18, 2011 at 8:52 am (Updated November 18, 2011 at 8:52 am)

Teenager says he wasn’t drunk when gunman opened fire

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