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Friends in low places

Heath Hamacher//November 3, 2016

Friends in low places

Heath Hamacher//November 3, 2016

Fake friends, like autumn leaves, are scattered everywhere, someone once said.

As the foliage falls here in North Carolina (despite 80-degree weather), the subject of one state Court of Appeals opinion learned the true color of one of his ostensible friends.

In August 2014, after Charlotte police busted him hiding in the woods not too far from a rifle the arresting officer reportedly saw him running with, Markus Hammonds, a felon barred from touching a firearm, confessed the weapon was his. He and his buddy, Cordero Jordan, were riding around with the gun, Hammonds told police, calling his decision “stupid.”

According to Hammonds, someone had shot up his mother’s house recently, all while his nieces and nephews played in the yard. He called police, he said, who responded but declined to post an officer outside the home or to patrol the street. That’s when Jordan volunteered to “stand guard,” court documents show. Jordan drove Hammonds to a relative’s home to retrieve a duty weapon. After doing so, the duo was traveling up I-85 — guns in tow — when a Charlotte officer attempted to stop them for a traffic violation. After a brief car chase, Hammonds, toting a rifle, bailed. When cops found him hiding, Hammonds reportedly admitted to having the rifle. He later told authorities that he didn’t snitch on Jordan because Jordan was doing him a big favor.

As trial approached, Hammonds’ attorney motioned for a continuance, citing the preceding Labor Day weekend, the death of Hammonds’ father, and Hammonds’ desire to hire new counsel.

The court put the trial off for a day to give Hammonds a chance to see the dash cam footage that he hadn’t seen, but declined to continue the case.

Hammonds, who had rejected a plea deal, was found guilty and sentenced to 17 to 30 months in prison.

It’s unclear why, but Hammonds never did watch the dash cam footage.

Maybe he should have, as it apparently included a crime scene conversation between officers and Jordan, who made it clear that the rifle and anything else illegal in the car — including another firearm that Hammonds was unaware of — belonged to Hammonds.

Had he known that his friend sang like a canary, Hammonds says, he may have done things differently.

Turns out Jordan was a felon, too, and wasn’t about to own up to a firearms offense.

Some friend and some security guard.

Maybe after prison, Hammonds will make better choices in friends and contractors. But a February prison charge for assaulting an officer suggests that his decision-making skills are still falling short.

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