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City official accused of obstruction in Georgia baby shooting

March 29, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel
  • James H. Brooks, a Brunswick, Ga., city commissioner and mayor pro tem, has been arrested on charges of influencing a witness and willful obstruction of law enforcement officers.
James H. Brooks, a Brunswick, Ga., city commissioner and mayor pro tem,… (Glynn County Police Department )

A city commissioner has been arrested on suspicion of trying to interfere with a witness in last week's shooting death of a Georgia toddler in a stroller.

James H. Brooks is a commissioner and mayor pro tem in Brunswick, Ga., where two teenagers are accused of shooting to death 13-month-old Antonio Santiago and wounding his mother during an alleged robbery attempt.

Authorities arrested Brooks on Thursday on charges of influencing a witness and willful obstruction of law enforcement officers.

According to his attorney, Alan David Tucker, Brooks is accused of stepping between investigators and the mother of one of the accused teens when authorities tried to speak with her after a court appearance.

De'Marquise Elkins, 17, and Dominique Lang, 15, have been charged as adults in Antonio's death.

The child's mother, Sherry West, was pushing him in a stroller near their home when the shooting occurred. West has told reporters she was headed home from the post office when the teens approached her and demanded money.

Elkins’ mother, Karimah Elkins, and his older sister, Sabrina Elkins, have been charged with evidence tampering for allegedly trying to dispose of the gun used in the shooting.  

Meanwhile, Brooks, in an unrelated case, was indicted Thursday on charges of racketeering. According to the grand jury indictment, Brooks took money in exchange for the promise that he would help with an alcohol license and Police Department applications.

In a statement provided by his attorney, Brooks apologized for getting involved in the shooting investigation. 

"He, along with several others in the community, had been duped by Karimah Elkins and Sabrina Elkins into believing their alibi story for Mr. De’Marquise Elkins," the statement said. "It was his honest belief at the time that he was trying to protect the rights of his constituents by advising them to remain silent and not make any additional statements to the police without having a lawyer present. Unfortunately, he learned later that the Elkins’ were not being truthful with the police when they made statements about Mr. Elkins’ whereabouts during the time of the shooting.”

As a condition of his release on bond, Brooks has been ordered to stay away from investigators and witnesses in the shooting case and to stay away from Brunswick police officers unless he is invited “for the purpose of conducting official City of Brunswick business.”

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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