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A district court judge this afternoon amended the bond of a man charged in a Monday night standoff with law enforcement in Weldon.

The decision by Judge Vershenia Ballance Johnson to amend Umel Jackson’s bond from $300,000 secured, which was done Thursday, to $360,000 U.S. currency only was based on a Facebook post by Roanoke Rapids police Chief Shane Guyant Thursday which gave an explicit account of the episode in which the 18-year-old Jackson is charged with firing shots at officers responding to his Elm Street residence to serve a search warrant based on a previous shooting in the area.

Guyant's Facebook post

Assistant District Attorney Keith Werner told the judge a bullet missed a Halifax County Drug and Gang Task Force agent by a foot.

Jackson had appeared before the court Thursday via video conference when Johnson set the bond at $300,000 secured.

When she made the decision Thursday she said she had nothing but warrants in front of her and had no other details of the case. When she inquired whether the assistant DA had anything else to say the response was “no your honor.”

She described Jackson as an 18-year-old with no prior criminal convictions and only knew of him prior to him reaching the age of majority.

With around 20 officers in the courtroom today, Johnson said there was not one Roanoke Rapids officer in the courtroom Thursday. She said she wished there had been so she could have received more detail about the case. “I never want to set a bond in the blind.”

Then, she said, “I was blindsided by a Facebook post. I did not have all the information.”

That’s when she decided to call for today’s session and review Jackson’s bond.

Assistant DA comments

Werner told the court the episode began when the task force was actually looking for Jackson’s brother Monday night. He wasn’t there but Jackson and his sister were.

Werner said Jackson used his sister as a shield. He also said Jackson had complied with an earlier swab search warrant.

“He’s lucky he’s still alive,” Werner said of Jackson. “The officers used restraint because he was hiding behind his sister.”

Now, he said, the federal government is interested in the case and is attempting to get emergency warrants on Jackson.

With many officers across the state still raw over the Charlotte police shootings, Werner said, Monday’s episode “could have been the same situation.”

‘These are allegations’

Ronnie Reeves, who was appointed as Jackson’s attorney due to his indigency affidavit, told the court he objected to the bond reduction. “These are allegations,” he said. “There’s no sworn testimony. There’s not really any discovery.”

Johnson told both attorneys they still have a right to modify the bond.

Werner said he would not object amending the bond from $300,000 secured to a $300,000 U.S. currency only bond.

After going over the options Johnson set the bond at $50,000 U.S. currency only for each of the six counts of attempted first-degree murder and $10,000 U.S. currency only for the six counts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm.

Werner had no comment after the session was adjourned.

Reeves would only say afterward, “I haven’t received anything from the state at this point. I need to do some investigating myself.”

HCSO response

Chief Deputy Neil Aycock of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office said, "I am very appreciative that Judge Johnson and the district attorney's office worked together to have a better understanding of the charges against Mr. Jackson and revisited this today.”

Aycock said, “This was a very serious situation that could have ended tragically. I am extremely proud of our officers’ response on Monday evening. I appreciate the law enforcement community standing together today."

RRPD response

Guyant said afterward, “I appreciate Judge Johnson reconvening with this bond. I think she made this a lot tighter today. I think that the cash bond is more appropriate. It’s very disheartening that she did not know the information she needed to know to make an objective decision yesterday.”

He said he called the district attorney but never heard back on the matter. “Luckily, we have Keith Werner in this county and he stood up and he did what had to be done today and what should have been done yesterday.”

The police chief said he appreciated the judge strengthening the bond on Jackson “because I still stand by the fact he’s a menace to our society and honestly I hate what I had to do on Facebook. I can see her point of view about this but this has been going on for a long time.”

‘This place needs work’

He said, however, referring to the county judicial system, “I’m not saying this is a corrupt system because I don’t believe in that. But I can tell you this, this place needs work, this place needs a lot of work. They forget that they’re advocates for victims and our officers were victims here and nobody was an advocate for them.”

Said Guyant: “If I’m their advocate and I have to take a little grief because of it, so be it. I’m going to stand by my men and women and I’m going to support them all I can within the realm that I can. If I stepped on some toes, I stepped on some toes. I’m not going to apologize for it because I think I did what was right for our officers.”

He said of Johnson, “In the grand scheme of things she did a really good thing today hearing this again which she didn’t have to do … so that we can ensure that this deviant is locked up and he is not out on the street causing issues.”

The chief said he wished this could have happened Thursday. “I don’t know why it didn’t because it looks like there’s a lot of comedies of errors here. But the comedy of errors were not on law enforcement today.”

Angry officers were shot at

He said he made the post because he was angry that his officers got shot at. “I felt like they were let down. I did what I thought was right … I stand by everything that I did but I do appreciate her today hearing this again and modifying it. That took a lot of professionalism on her part as well and I think today with the information she should have been given yesterday she definitely made the right decision today.”

Guyant knew going into the hearing today he wasn’t going to be called to task for the post. “We had a discussion and we had a very professional discussion. My job is to look out after the officers that work under my command and to make sure the city that I’m the police chief of is safe and free of crime. If that means I have to get reamed out then so be it.”

Supporting ‘six officers that are victims’

Guyant said the officers who showed up in court this afternoon were not there to support him but the “six officers that are victims in this case” and “the officers that showed up to support them we probably should have been here yesterday.”

He said he has never known a time when the police department had to be at every single bond hearing. “That’s what the DA’s office is for. The DA’s office is supposed to be the voice for us. They’re the prosecutors, they’re the ones that represent our cases. They should take care of this. That’s what they went to law school for.”

Guyant said, “I don’t feel like  law enforcement gets enough credit for being part of this system. I think part of that is our fault because of mistakes we’ve made in the past but we’re trying to fix that. We’re all trying to fix that to better serve people in this city I work for.”

He said one of the changes the police department will make is to have the charging officer in court for the bond hearing. “That’ll be a change that we make because honestly I don’t know that I have faith in the future and this could repeat itself. I want to make sure that we have a voice at the table and primarily we are the advocate for the victim because that is the ultimate thing that we stand behind and we support our victims. We’ve lost touch with that. We’re so concerned about worrying about defendants’ rights, we’re so concerned about making sure that people that are charged have all of the legal protections, which they should have, but where are the legal protections and where are the people standing up for the victims?”

He said the victims Monday were law enforcement officers. “Fellow brothers. I felt like I had to defend them in a way and if I’m the only voice that came to the table that said anything then so be it.”

Guyant declined to elaborate about what Werner had mentioned about possible federal involvement.