While fire officers were battling the blaze at nearly ten homes in the Thomas Gap district in Richmond St Michael, as many as 20 police vehicles were responding to near pandemonium in the neighbouring Wilkinson Road.
As persons lined the streets this afternoon to catch a glimpse of the raging fire, their attention was diverted by the thunderous wails of police sirens all heading in the direction of St Leonards Boys’ School in what many spectators believed was a flare–up of violence.
When a team from Barbados TODAY arrived in the Wilkinson area there were scenes of several angry and very vocal residents expressing their displeasure over what they described as an over reaction by members of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
As many 100 uniformed and heavily armed members of the Task Force, as well as plain clothed officers, descended on the district apparently in anticipation of an outbreak of violence.
According to many residents, this was all because of a reported altercation between an officer and a resident, who is believed to suffer from mental illness.
Nancy Forde, who told Barbados TODAY she was the aunt of 35–year–old woman, charged that there wasn’t any need for the alleged excessive force used to restrain her.
“She don’t give no trouble or nothing so. She don’t trouble nobody that is what got me. I was home and I hear the sirens and I thought it was a fight and to come here and tell [what happened]. I just want to know what really went on. She had a nervous breakdown but she still on medication. She ain’t no harm to nobody,” the woman lamented.
As the mother of three was being carted off in the back seat of a marked police vehicle, sandwiched between two officers, the uproar was reignited as her pregnant daughter watched helplessly.
The daughter, Iyesha Gibbs, said she was very worried for her mother. Screaming to officers, she asked where her mother was being taken.
“I don’t know where they taking my mother and nobody ain’t telling me nothing. Me and my grandmother are the only people who are there for my mother, this is bare foolishness I want to know where my mother going,” she cried.
Another resident, Shaddriese Marshall explained that the entire incident with the woman began at her house. She said that the woman was passing her home when two officers chased a man into her Thomas Gap house. Marshall stated that as the officers tried to apprehend the man, they not only shattered a panel of glass on her door but affected three children present, including a three–week–old baby and it was then that the woman voiced her opinion about how the situation was handled.
But police Public Relations Officer Inspector David Welch told Barbados TODAY that a couple of his detectives were assaulted with one receiving soft tissue injuries.
Welch said that while detectives were in the Wilkinson Road, Richmond Gap area they had reason to pursue a man seen on a block there. He said that during the pursuit, the man was invited into a house by a female occupant, who slammed the door causing the glass panel to shatter. When the man exited the house it was then that officers tried to apprehend him.
“One officer observed the man exiting the side door, held onto him and arrested him. Two male occupants of the house then held onto the man who the police was chasing and pulled him from the policeman’s grasp.
“A crowd had gathered and the police backed off and called for further assistance. While that was going on, one of the two male occupants assaulted a police officer and another man came unto the scene and assaulted the other police officer causing soft tissue injuries,” Welch said, as he warned members of the public that it was a serious offence to assault police officers in execution of their duties and also to free offenders from police.
On the alleged police brutality, Welch said he was not aware of any such case and he advised that any persons with complaints against officers to direct them to the Police Complaints Department.