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Brinks truck robbery suspect says he was 'coerced' into confession, records show
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Brinks truck robbery suspect says he was 'coerced' into confession, records show

HAMMOND — A 29-year-old Chicago man's defense attorney is expected to argue in court Tuesday that his client is innocent and that he was coerced into confessing he robbed an armored Brinks truck in April.

Akeem Jackson's attorney, Sean Brown, requested an evidentiary hearing in an earlier court filing so that Judge Philip P. Simon could decide whether the confession and any evidence seized from his apartment last year should be deemed inadmissible during trial. 

Brown argued in documents Simon should suppress all physical evidence seized from his client's apartment, along with "all statements, confessions, or admissions made by Jackson to law enforcement agents in the court of a custodial interrogation." 

Jackson is accused of stealing more than $600,000 from a Brinks truck on April 28 in the parking lot of Chase Bank, 4204 Calumet Ave. in Hammond, with the help of at least two other people. A getaway vehicle was later discovered abandoned and torched in flames in a field on State Line Road near 136th Avenue. 

Jackson was indicted June 28 on one count of Hobbs Act Robbery, which is a federal law that prohibits a robbery or attempted robbery from affecting interstate or foreign commerce, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of that robbery. 

Brown argued in a motion to suppress evidence the several law enforcement officers who visited Jackson's apartment the morning of June 27 without a search warrant "struck fear and intimidation into his mind by entering his home, making demands and displaying firearms." 

Federal prosecutors, however, described the encounter at the apartment as "conversational in nature and tone," arguing Jackson provided verbal and written consent to search his room. His grandmother, the apartment lessee, also signed a consent form that allowed police to search the entire apartment. 

In Jackson's room, investigators allegedly uncovered $6,621 cash, a firearm, a handwritten note detailing the robbery and ammunition, and in the common area, a hand-drawn diagram of the robbery crime scene, records state. The indictment states the drawings were labeled with "ATM" and "truck," and even listed the names or nicknames of other robbers, and how much each participant would receive from split earnings.

Brown claims a "coercive atmosphere" forced Jackson into believing he had no choice but to ride with detectives to the Hammond Police Department, where he was reportedly forced into a confession during the five-hour interrogation in a windowless room. 

"Although an FBI agent told Jackson that he was not in custody ... Jackson did not realistically have an option to oppose law enforcement's authority concerning his freedom of movement," Brown wrote. 

Contrary to Brown's claims, prosecutors argued Jackson was unrestrained, provided water and coffee, and had access to his cellphone during the interrogation. He was read his Miranda rights in his entirety, and FBI Special Agent Chad Oakes even "moved his chair so he would be next to Jackson so that Jackson could read along." 

"Do you understand all this?" Oakes asked. 

"Yes, sir," Jackson replied. 

When interviewed, Jackson allegedly admitted to the robbery, but then backtracked and said he lied. He then reversed course again and said he did take part in the robbery and was able to confirm details that investigators never released to the public. 

A hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

The indictment against Jackson states he was employed as a Brinks truck driver until he was fired in 2016 for failing to show up to work, investigators said in the complaint. 

Authorities allege he removed a key from the Brinks truck driver and gained access to the armored car in the April 28 heist.

The Brinks truck driver told police he heard one of the robbers fire a single shot before fleeing in a getaway vehicle, a 2002 brown Cadillac.

A review of surveillance footage revealed that a Cadillac bearing the Illinois license plate S372316 passed a camera at Indianapolis Boulevard and State Line Road coming into the city of Hammond at 5:55 a.m. that morning. 

High-quality cameras captured the same vehicle parked and conducting surveillance on Chase Bank from the nearby Econo Lodge hotel parking lot that overlooks the route driven by the Brinks truck to the bank. 

That same Cadillac was located March 6 at 3620 S. Rhodes Ave., in Chicago, court records show, leading investigators to Jackson's apartment.

On May 21, police were tipped off that Jackson and a woman were involved in the robbery, had been seen with large amounts of money and recently vacationed in Florida, court records state. 

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North Lake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS. Contact her at lauren.cross@nwi.com or 219-933-3206.

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