Detained for a friend – Davis recalls state of emergency pickup in Lluidas Vale

Romario Davis spent 10 days in custody under the ongoing state of public emergency essentially because of the interest he showed in the welfare of his childhood friend, 23-year-old Romaine Cunningham.

The two have been hanging out together for virtually all of their lives. They went to the same schools, sometimes eat from the same pot, swim in the same river at Juan de-Bolas district in St Catherine, and attend parties together.

They were at a party in Lluidas Vale on the night of Friday, December 7, when a group of police officers drove up, grabbed Cunningham from behind, and took him into a police vehicle.

The officers ordered other patrons to leave the venue, which was the gas station compound near Lluidas Vale square.

Davis could have done that easily, but he didn’t.

The 24-year-old told The Beacon that he could not comfortably journey miles uphill to his Juan de-Bolas home without knowing why his friend was being detained.

He stood a relatively short distance away from the police vehicle to observe what was transpiring.

Davis said he got a phone call from a woman and, even when that call ended, his friend was still in the vehicle.

He went towards the said vehicle to find out about the detention because, in all the years he has spent with his friend, he doesn’t know of him being involved in any wrongdoing.

That was when one of the police officers allegedly pointed a gun at Davis, and shoved him into the police vehicle to join his friend.

The cops took both friends to Linstead Police Station. The two later ended up at Tamarind Farm detention centre in Spanish Town.

After 10 days in custody, both men, together, on the morning of December 17, returned to freedom without charge. They were set free after attorney-at-law Trudy-Ann Russell appeared in court to fight their detention.

Throughout the ordeal, the young men’s mothers stuck with each other in the fight to secure their freedom. They are Nicole Simms (right) and Gloria Douglas.

Reflecting on the moment he too was detained, Davis told The Beacon: “I don’t know my friend as a criminal; I wouldn’t feel comfortable to leave him and go home without knowing what was happening to him.”

He further stated that he does no regret being detained. “I value friendship; everyday it’s the two of us from we were kids; we go everywhere together,” Davis said.

He explained that he felt humiliated being picked up in a crowd and treated like a common criminal although he is quite the opposite of that.

“It is not a good experience,” Davis posited. “We also felt insulted because we were picked up in a crowd; we are not the type of persons who do wrong things.”

He further stated that it is painful to be made to feel as though one has no right in one’s country.

“To tell you the truth, it feels like wi don’t have any rights in our own country; too many innocent people dem a mix up in this negativity,” Davis said, adding that he will not allow the sordid experience to turn him into a criminal or make him feel less patriotic.

“This experience made me a better person; at least I can talk to other people about it,” he further told The Beacon.

Meanwhile, throughout the ordeal, the young men’s mothers stuck with each other in the fight to secure their freedom.

Davis’ mom, Nicole Simms, said she prayed daily for both friends to be released from custody at the same time.

Her prayer was answered.

“They went into custody together and I know my son wouldn’t walk away and left his friend,” Simms said, adding that both young men have been very close since they were in basic school. They also live close to each other.


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