A federal grand jury has indicted an ex-Memphis cop prosecutors say sexually assaulted a vulnerable crime victim more than two decades ago.
A grand jury indictment unveiled Tuesday, June 14, in Tennessee claims Bridges Randle Jr., 47, raped a woman at gunpoint in her Memphis apartment in 2000 while he was on duty. If convicted of using sexual violence to violate the woman’s civil rights, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Randle now lives in the Virgin Islands. His criminal defense attorney in St. Thomas, Michael L. Sheesley, pointed to a number of problems dogging the prosecution’s case, including a potential violation of the statute of limitations and the fact that Randle was acquitted of the same rape allegation in 2018 by a Tennessee jury in state court.
“At some point they have to offer evidence to support this,” Sheesley said.
Randle has not been incarcerated. A pretrial detention hearing is slated Thursday before US Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller in St. Thomas.
Randle also goes by the names of Jamu Abiola Banjoko and Oluwafemi Abiol Banjoko. Authorities claim he gave false information about his birthplace when obtaining a driver’s license in the Virgin Islands, but it remains unclear whether a clerk filled in the block without his input.
Randle was born in Mississippi. His legal woes began shortly after he visited a woman identified in court records only as KT on June 24, 2000. She was 24 years old then and had called the Memphis Police Department to report that her boyfriend had vandalized her car.
Authorities say Randle and other officers arrived at her residence and took her statement, but Randle told KT he needed to return later to snap photographs of the car damage. Later, she was awakened by a knock on her front door. Through the peephole, she recognized Randle and let him in.
KT told investigators that Randle sat next to her on a seat, her 2-year-old daughter asleep nearby. Prosecutors say Randle told KT she was beautiful, which made her uncomfortable, so she asked him to leave.
That’s when Randle allegedly “told her she did not want anything to happen to her daughter, pulled out his gun, and dragged her to her daughter’s bedroom,” wrote Assistant US Attorney Meredith J. Edwards in a motion seeking to detain Randle until trial.
As she was tugged down the hallway, KT grabbed at the doorframe, but Randle “overpowered her,” slamming her head into the doorframe and bruising her arm and knee, Edwards continued.
Randle pushed KT onto her daughter’s bed and she tried holding him back by pushing back on his chest, but he pressed his pistol toward her chin and pried open her legs before raping her, according to the filing.
Prosecutors say that shortly after Randle left, KT began reporting the assault to her friends and her mother. She went to a nearby hospital and then to a rape crisis center, where she detailed the incident to medical staffers and Memphis Police officers. She also submitted to a sexual assault kit.
Memphis authorities took no additional steps to investigate her case, and the rape kit wasn’t processed until 2013. The DNA on the vaginal swab was linked to Randle because he already had a genetic profile in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.
Randle was in CODIS because on July 18, 2001, another woman — cloaked as “NJ” in the court records — said Randle sexually assaulted her while he was on duty as a Memphis Police officer.
The cases are eerily similar. NJ had called the police to report her husband for domestic violence, and Randle responded. She claimed he escorted her to an apartment complex clubhouse used by the Memphis Police “under the guise of taking her somewhere safe,” Edwards wrote.
The cop put his firearm on a table near her and began fondling her, despite her repeated attempts to make him stop, and then forced her legs open and raped her, Edwards continued. When Randle was done, he warned her not to tell anyone, drove her to a gas station, and abandoned her, according to the prosecutor.
NJ reported the incident to the Memphis Police five days later. No rape kit was taken, but detectives confiscated a sofa cover and found the officer’s DNA on it. The sample’s genetic details were entered into CODIS.
Authorities indicted Randle in 2002 for NJ’s assault. Edwards wrote in her motion that Randle pleaded guilty to the felony charge of official oppression and received a one-year probationary sentence. But Randle insists he didn’t plead guilty but rather entered a nolo contendere plea.
A no-contest plea in Tennessee allows a person to avoid trial, accepting punishment as if he or she is guilty but without formally admitting guilt.
At his sentencing hearing, Randle conceded to the judge “she could have wanted to leave the clubhouse and at that time I was still talking to her,” but claimed everything that happened inside the clubhouse was consensual.
Randle changed his name to Ajamu Abiola Banjoko and moved to Georgia, where he worked for a string of universities in their Upward Bound programs, which are designed to help high school graduates prepare for college.
Authorities claim Georgia State University fired Randle from its program in 2012 after he was accused of sexually harassing minor students, including showing one girl a picture of his bedroom and telling her, “That’s where the magic happens.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlanta fired Randle in 2014 after he was arrested on Tennessee charges in connection with the KT case in Memphis.
It would be nearly four more years before his trial began in state court, and Randle failed to show for the jury’s verdict, but jurors acquitted the ex-cop of the rape charge.
He changed his name to Oluwafemi Banjoko and moved to the Virgin Islands. He now works as a grants specialist at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas.