'How could they think I shot 12 people?'

INNOCENT, DESPITE 32 DAYS IN JAIL

May 20, 1993|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Staff Writer

For 32 days, Sean Levin Brooks sat in a cell at the Baltimor City Detention Center, missing his 4-year-old son and thinking about why he was in jail for a crime he didn't commit.

"I just kept thinking how could they think that I shot 12 people? I kept thinking how ridiculous that was," Mr. Brooks said yesterday at his home in the 2000 block of Greenmount Ave. "It didn't make any sense to me. It still doesn't."

Mr. Brooks was released last week. He had been charged with 12 counts of attempted murder and handgun violations in connection with the shooting of 12 people during a dice game on April 10 in the 500 block of E. 21st St., near his home.

Six of the victims suffered serious injuries.

Mr. Brooks was arrested the next morning -- Easter Sunday -- at the downtown bank building where he worked as a security guard.

"About 20 police [officers] came down there to get me," he recalled. "When I saw all of them there, I thought the bank alarm had gone off. But they were there to take me away."

Mr. Brooks had been identified as the gunman in a police photo lineup immediately after the shooting. He was questioned by homicide detectives at police headquarters then handcuffed and shackled and taken to the jail, where he was housed in a section reserved for violent offenders. His bail was set at $1 million.

Last week, charges against Mr. Brooks were dropped after the evidence against him turned out to be questionable, said Patricia Jessamy, deputy city state's attorney. She said police have other leads in the case and some suspects have been identified.

Mr. Brooks said he had never been in jail before. His only other arrest came last June during a drug raid near his home. Those charges were later dropped.

"I kept thinking about all of those people in jail who are innocent and still serve a lot of time," he said. "I thought it was going to be me. I thought that maybe after 20 years or something, somebody would come up and say I didn't do it.

"I wished I was one of the 12 people who got shot because then at least the police would know that I didn't do it," he said.

His inspiration while in jail was a picture of his son -- Sean Jr. -- wearing a cap and gown at a pre-school graduation ceremony. The hardest part of the ordeal, he said, was talking with the boy over the telephone.

"He'd asked me 'Daddy, why are you locked up?' I told him the truth and that I'll be home soon because I'm locked up for something that I didn't do," Mr. Brooks said.

He said he cried in his cell when he thought about his son, whose birthday he missed, and about the embarrassment his arrest caused his family.

Mr. Brooks, a soft-spoken, muscular man who lives with his mother, talked about his arrest and incarceration yesterday in front of his two-story brick home. While he talked, he played with Sean Jr. and greeted a stream of well-wishers.

"I know everybody around [here] and everybody knows me," said the 1987 graduate of Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. "If I did it, I wouldn't be hard to find or identify."

He said the shooting victims are friends and that they told him they did not identify him as the gunman to police.

"I don't know who ID'd me. All the victims told me they told the police that they got the wrong man," he said.

Mr. Brooks said that he was helping a friend move when the shooting occurred, and learned of the shooting when he saw emergency vehicles on East 21st Street as he returned home.

"I was standing right there in the crowd. If they had wanted me, they could have arrested me then. If someone had of seen me do it, then they should have picked me out right then," he said.

Mr. Brooks lost his job with the Loughlin Security Agency while in jail and is trying to get it back. He has also consulted a lawyer and is considering a suit against the Police Department.

He said he has no ill feelings toward street officers.

"They have a job to do. It's the detectives that didn't get the facts straight," he said. "And even now, after they see that they were wrong, they could apologize but they haven't. No one has."

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