Family of Trey Songz’ bodyguard Cornell Whitfield appeal to Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum to commute his sentence after he was jailed for a year over assault while protecting singer
- The bodyguard of singer Trey Songz has been in legal limbo in Dubai since August when he was arrested over a previous incident
- Cornell Whitfield says that he defended Songz and himself when they were accosted by an ‘aggressive’ man in the emirate in March
Trey Songz’ bodyguard’s family issued a plea to Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum in an effort to have the security professional spared from a notorious prison in the emirate.
Cornell Whitfield was ‘doing his job’ when he put himself in front of the singer who had been confronted by a man as they left the luxury FIVE Palm Jumeirah hotel, his family maintains.
To calm down the ‘aggressive’ hotel guest who was swearing and waving his arms he claims that he gently tapped the man’s face.
The original incident occurred in March and it was only when Whitfield unwittingly returned to Dubai alongside Songz in August was he placed into custody and slapped with an assault charge. He is currently out on bail and is unable to leave Dubai.
On Wednesday, Whitfield’s mother, Marysia and cousin, Sarena, released a heartbreaking video calling for his release, citing the bodyguard’s two-year-old son who is without his father since the arrest.
Cornell Whitfield, 40, is rap star Lil Kim’s personal bodyguard and has provided close protection for a host of other stars
Whitfield was accompanying Trey Songz as part of his security detail when they left the five-star hotel to go to a club (file image)
Whitfield’s cousin Sarena and mother Marysia released a joint video calling for Whitfield’s release
In the video, Marysia says that the family has already spent $35,000 on Whitfield’s legal defense and other costs surrounding his imprisonment.
The pair, who are in daily contact with Whitfield, say that the man who says he was attacked was possibly drunk or on drugs and was ‘very aggressive.’
They add that Whitfield was protecting himself when he struck the man.
In the wake of his one-year sentence, Whitfield’s mother said that his family ‘just want to get him home’ and want their appeal to go ‘worldwide.’
According to the activist group, Detained in Dubai, Whitfield has an appeal scheduled for November 10.
Whitfield was told he had to pay his ‘victim’ $60,000 to have the charges dropped, his family claims.
When he was unable to raise the money, he was sentenced to a year in jail.
Detained in Dubai founder Radha Stirling said that this type of fee-paying is ‘an incentive to open frivolous or fabricated criminal allegations against unsuspecting foreigners.’
Trey Songz attends ‘The BET Honors’ 2015 at Warner Theatre on January 24, 2015
The bodyguard put himself in front of the singer who had been confronted by a man as they left the luxury FIVE Palm Jumeirah hotel (pictured)
‘Celebrities need to assess how easily they and their staff can become vulnerable to Dubai’s corrupt and volatile legal system,’ Stirling went on.
‘A simple allegation is sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. In Whitfield’s case, the CCTV evidence, hotel security staff and witnesses fully supported the bodyguard’s restrained response.’
‘If someone attacks you, you need to be able to defend yourself without fear of imprisonment. Dubai has a sustained history of jailing victims of crime. The judicial system is notoriously racist against foreigners, especially those of African and Asian origin,’ she continued.
The demand for money – or face jail – mirrors the recent nightmare suffered by America student Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos who was given a year long jail sentence for allegedly assaulting a security guard at the country’s international airport.
The 21-year-old had her sentence commuted after pressure from the Detained in Dubai group who are also representing Whitfield in his attempt to leave the country.
As well as Lil Kim, Whitfield has been the bodyguard for NFL sports stars Trevon Diggs and Deebo Samuels.
He has also acted as bodyguard for the Junior Combs, the actor son of Sean Combs, and the rap artist Quavo.
Whitfield was accompanying Trey Songz, who has also appeared in the film ‘Baggage Claim’ and has triple Grammy nominations, as part of his security detail when they left the five-star hotel to go to a club.
They were confronted by a Jordanian national who began acting aggressively shouting, swearing and waving his arms at the group.
Whitfield attempted to calm the man down and tapped his face he said in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
The incident was caught on hotel CCTV and Whitfield and the others in TreySongz group later flew back to the US.
Despite saying the incident was caught on CCTV and he had witnesses, prosecutors allowed the ‘victim’ to pursue Whitfield and demand the cash payment to drop the assault allegation.
Many of his former clients are now promising to help raise the money so he can fly home.
Whitfield said: ‘I was only doing my job. The man appeared very erratic as if he was drunk or on drugs.
‘I just tapped his face to jolt him out of what he was doing, and it had the right effect. He backed off, and that was the end of the matter.
‘I just want to go home to my family. The whole thing has been a nightmare. I know Lil Kim is very upset at the what has happened.’
Stirling said the courts are biased against visitors and added that Whitfield could have filed his own criminal complaint.
Social media influencer Tierra Allen was banned from leaving Dubai for three months after being accused of verbally abusing a car rental agency worker.
She was told to pay an undisclosed sum for the case to be dropped and only allowed to leave after her mother paid for her passport to be returned.
Stirling said holidaymakers and celebrities should think twice before travelling to Dubai as many have fallen foul of the harsh laws in the desert paradise.
She said:’ Tourists are vulnerable to vindictive, false and unevidenced allegations that could leave them languishing in notorious jails.
‘For many a trip to Dubai can be a one-way ticket to jail. ‘
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