MANILA, Philippines – It’s Holy Week but the Metro Manila police chief is apparently not in a pious mood of forgiving PBA import Jamelle Cornley for assaulting a police officer Wednesday.
Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, said the police are dead set on filing charges against Cornley for hitting Police Officer 2 Anselmo Lazatin during the former cager’s rampage in a Quezon City hotel early Wednesday.
“Whether he apologizes or not, we will file charges,” a disgusted Espina said.
Espina showed no sympathy for Cornley despite the latter’s complaint he was robbed.
“This can’t be allowed. Yes, there was a problem, but the police were already there to help him, and he just [run amuck] and hit them. That’s defiance of authority,” Espina said.
“File all appropriate charges against this PBA player, aside from direct assault, as may be necessary and appropriate. Copy furnish the PBA commissioner of the criminal charges leveled against Cornley, for appropriate administrative action,” Espina directed the Quezon City police director.
Cornley is facing complaints of malicious mischief, alarm and scandal, direct assault, resisting arrest and disrespecting police authorities.
The 25-year-old former player who led his team Rain or Shine to win last year’s PBA Governor’s cup allegedly went in a drunken rampage at the Sir William’s Hotel on Timog Avenue in Barangay (village) South Triangle around 6 a.m. after three female friends he checked in with stole his wallet containing US$1,400.
When police came, he allegedly resisted arrest and hit one of the officers, Lazatin.
‘F’ word rained down on cops
At the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Kamuning station, Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo personally had Cornley tackled by some 20 of his men to be dragged inside the police station’s holding cell after Cornley allegedly gave him a dose of the “F” word with some taste of an “A” word.
“I was trying to get his side and help him because he said he was a victim of theft. But he kept on insulting me and would neither cooperate nor file a report on the incident,” Pedrozo, the station commander, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Pedrozo is among at least 10 other policemen to rap Cornley with resisting arrest, alarm and scandal as well as disrespect or disobedience to a person in authority.
Lazatin, of the same station, filed charges of direct assault and resisting arrest against the PBA import claiming that the American had punched him during the arrest at the hotel lobby. He was allegedly rendered unconscious by the punch. He was rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center for treatment while Cornley was subdued and cuffed by his colleagues.
The hotel management is eyeing a charge of malicious mischief against Cornley for allegedly destroying a large vase at the lobby, a desktop computer on the front desk and the glass doors of the Baia Luna KTV bar, all worth about P40,000.
The case was turned over to the QCPD Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) for investigation with most of the complainants-policemen assigned at the Kamuning station.
‘What should I tell my mother about this?’
A sober Cornley told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he had met his three female friends just as he came out from a bar along Timog Avenue. It was the three women’s idea, he said, for them to check in at the hotel.
“After we had a nice time I gave them a few P1,000 bills and US$100 just as they were leaving. I hit the shower but when I came out, the wallet I placed under my pillow was gone,” he said, adding that the missing US$1,400 was the sum he had saved up from his stint as a PBA cager.
According to Cornley, who was best import in last year’s basketball tourney, when he asked the hotel staff for the identities of the three women who had gone into the room with him, they denied knowing the trio although they had previously shown signs of recognizing the women as regulars.
“I was angry and tipped over a vase,” he said, adding that it was at that time that policemen arrived. One of the policemen, Lazatin, tried to pacify him but his concern over his stolen money and the thieves who stole it prevented him from heeding the policeman’s advice.
“I told him (Lazatin) ‘Don’t you touch me. Don’t you f—ing touch me.’ I told him that ten times I think. But he did not listen. I shoved him to the floor but he acted as if I had hit him. I saw him lift his head several times and take a peek. When everybody was looking at and bringing him to the hospital, he pretended to be knocked out,” Cornley said.
He told the Inquirer that it was his first time to be in legal trouble but it was not what he was worried about. “I am concerned about losing the money I painstakingly saved. What is embarrassing is what I should tell my mother about this,” he said, adding that he was due home to Columbus, Ohio on Easter Sunday.
Cornley played as a forward for Pennsylvania State University’s Nittany Lions and had stints as a cager in France, Israel, and Argentina before being brought in as an import by Rain or Shine Elasto Paint for the PBA governor’s cup.
He suffered a knee injury during the basketball season for which he underwent rehabilitation at a hospital in San Juan City.