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Policeman Pleads Not Guilty to Shooting Charges

July 29, 2004 – Police Officer Jerome Blyden pleaded not guilty on Thursday to attempted murder and 11 other crimes related to allegations that he shot at a man driving near the officer's home last December.
Blyden, 27, a St. Thomas officer for eight years, is accused of having fired at least one shot without provocation at a car driven by mechanic Roy Sterrod.
The first police officer to be arrested this year, Blyden turned himself in to authorities last week after a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. He was released without bail after an advice-of-rights hearing.
Blyden arrived an hour late for his Thursday arraignment before Territorial Judge I've Swan. The policeman's attorney Treston Moore, said Blyden thought the hearing was at 10 a.m., not 9 a.m.
If found guilty, Blyden could be sentenced to 25 years in prison. A trial date has not been set yet.
At the time of the alleged shooting, according to court records, Sterrod was test-driving a car he had repaired on the dead-end street Blyden lives on.
Blyden, who was off-duty and driving a Jeep, allegedly followed Sterrod to the side of the road. When Sterrod turned in his seat to see what the problem was, Blyden drew his service pistol and fired at Sterrod's car, hitting it near the driver's side door, the court records state.
Sterrod fled and called the police. Blyden also called police, saying he had just fired at someone in front of his house and needed assistance.
Officers dispatched to the scene found a bullet casing matching Blyden's gun several hundred yards from the policeman's home, an affidavit states.
Blyden was called before a police disciplinary hearing on Jan. 21 and is alleged to have pulled Sterrod aside beforehand and warned him to leave without testifying.
The hearing's outcome has not been made public. Blyden was placed on suspension from the Police Department after an initial court hearing last week.
He is charged with attempted murder and other counts including assault, weapons violations and threatening a witness.
Police Chief Novelle Francis called the arrest "a black eye" on the Police Department but pointed out that Blyden is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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