Special to South Florida Times
NORTH MIAMI-DADE — A family forced out of their home and taken to jail following a confrontation with police is accusing the authorities of using excessive force and endangering the lives of children.
Noted artist/activist Altiné Baki and two of her sons, Adaya Baki and Akila Baki, were arrested and charged on Oct. 26 with several counts and bonded out of jail. Police fired teargas into the house to end the five-hour standoff.
Akila’s wife Jensetta Nerestant, 22, a mother of three young children, including an infant, said her kids suffered cuts from broken glass and had to receive medical attention.
She said the police action forced her to lie on the floor with her children, ages 3 months, 3 years and 17 years.
“The police knew there were kids inside because we were screaming for (police) not to hurt (the children),” Nerestant said.
Nerestant said the children were taken to the police station with her and from there an employee of the Department of Children and Family Services took them to a doctor while she was being questioned by police.
Nerestant, who was charged with obstruction of justice, said that her children are now with a family member.
A female eyewitness, who declined to give her name, told South Florida Times that the infant was crying when the occupants came out of the house. “Everybody knows about a baby being in that house. And that’s who we all really feel bad for,” she said.
Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Det. Edna del Castillo said the SWAT team had to be dispatched to the scene.
“It is procedure in a case like this. A person was armed with a rifle, and then the 10 people who were inside refused to exit the residence,” she said.
Police Public Information Officer Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz said Wednesday police did not fire any shots.
“There were no gunshots fired by the police,” she said. The only gunshots were those “reported from the 911 call.”
On the question ofthe children, Cordero-Stutz said, “The officers present were aware that there were children in the home. Three children were brought outside of the home by an adult who had been inside the home before 5 a.m. We cannot confirm that person's identity. Teargas was not used until the children were removed.”
The SWAT team fired teargas into the house just before 5 a.m., forcing the 10 occupants out, said Akila Baki.
“That’s when they arrested everybody. And they never apologized for hurting the kids. In fact, they held the kids in the back of the cruiser and did not get them immediate medical attention,” he said.
The standoff began late Oct. 25, when police responded to several 911 calls between 11 and 11:30 p.m. reporting gunshots in the area behind Baki’s home in the 6300 block of Northwest 19th Avenue in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
Adaya Baki said in an interview that he exchanged gunfire with unidentified people in his backyard and he called 911 at 10:54 p.m. “I was being fired upon and I told (911 dispatch) that I was armed and licensed for my weapon,” he said.
When the first Miami-Dade County police cruiser responded, he said, the officer drove past the home slowly, “shining a spotlight in my face.” Akila tried to wave the officers down but without success, he said. “They then drove to the end of the block and that’s when they probably called for backup,” he said.
Akila said that he was on the porch when that first police car drove by. “I had my (assault rifle) strapped over my shoulder so I raised both of my hands in the air to signal them to stop. They kept moving. They knew I had a permit, they were told that when the 911 call was made,” he said.
That account differs from one given to South Florida Times by a man who said he lives in the vicinity and who refused to be identified. He said that initially one police car arrived on the scene. An officer went to the house and was greeted by someone inside with a rifle and the officer was told to leave the property. Shortly after that, other officers arrived, the man told South Florida Times.
SWAT and regular county police quickly surrounded the property, Adaya Baki said, with its power interrupted and a helicopter flying overhead.
He said police jumped out of the car with guns drawn and shouted for him to drop his gun. “They had guns. The red laser beams were in my face and head the entire time,” he said.
Altiné Baki, the head of the family, who goes by her artist name Altiné, was charged with one count of resisting arrest without violence and released on a $1,000 bond. Asked to comment, she offered no further information to South Florida Times about her arrest or the charges against her.
Adaya Baki, 26, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, two counts of resisting police without violence, one count of possession of an assault rifle and one count of openly carrying an assault rifle. He was released on a $25,000 bond.
Akila Baki, 30, was charged with one count of aggravated assault, one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, one count of resisting police without violence, one count of possession of an assault rifle and one count of openly carrying of an assault rifle. He was released on a $17,500 bond.
Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net
Photo: Adaya Baki