A St Michael mother is demanding answers from the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) after her 17-year-old son was today detained for allegedly refusing to give his name and address to lawmen.
Serena Browne, of #70, Apartment B, Clapham said her son, Dre, was attending summer camp at the Luther Thorne Memorial School when the incident occurred.
She explained that one of Dre’s friends had telephoned her at work and informed her that the teenager had been taken into lawful custody.
“My husband and I, we didn’t know where he was. We had to call around to try and figure out which station he was at and what was going on because the friend he was with just told us that the police had him,” she told Barbados TODAY. “After calling around, my husband found out that he was at Worthing [Police Station] and he said that he would deal with it, and he went to get him,” she explained.
The teenager also explained in recounting the incident that there was an altercation involving some other campers and police were called in.
However, Dre said, as he and a group were leaving the Wildey, St Michael camp just after 4 p.m., one of his friends asked him what he would do if he were a police officer and someone had a gun in his face and his partner was nearby.
“I said that I would’ve told them, pass the gun,” he said, explaining that the private conversation was overheard by one of the investigating officers.
“So, the police like they didn’t hear that part; they only heard the part about the gun and the female officer approached and proceeded to talk to me,” Dre recounted.
The 17-year-old said she told him that his comment about the gun was not “something good to say”.
“The next officer came from around the back, in an aggressive manner, as the female officer was asking my name. I was not paying attention to her, because I was minding the officer that had the attitude and he started to curse and fling up my shirt and was touching me, wanting to know if he could search me.
“All this time, the female officer was asking my name [so] I stopped listening to him and I gave her my name. She then asked my age and I told her I was 17.
“He then said, ‘so you’re 17? So you’re a bad boy?’ I continued listening to him and he proceeded to get more aggressive and was touching me up and saying things.
“The lady asked, ‘where do you live?’, and as soon as I was going to tell her where I lived, a third officer came up behind me and said I was not responding to the question that I was asked.”
It was then that the teenager said that the “aggressive” male officer told him that there was somewhere that he could take him, after which he was taken into custody.
“He pulled my hand, locked off my neck and put me in the van.
“On our way down to the station, he rested his hand on my chest because he didn’t want me to move; all this time the other officer continued to hold my hand. When we got to the station, he got out, pulled me out of the van by my shirt, had my hand behind my head and held me by my neck. I could not breath so I was struggling a bit
“He took me into a back room and from there they roughed me up, head locking me and pulling up my shirt and asked me more questions,” the teenager further alleged.
“They were calling me names and using a lot of negative language towards me.
“One of the officers even told me that if it was up to he, I would be six feet under and he would tell the people that I ran away from them.”
The reported ordeal lasted for more than an hour before Dre’s father arrived at the station, spoke to the officers and was allowed to leave with his son.
Based on both her son and husband’s accounts of the situation, Dre’s mother was very angry when spoke to Barbados TODAY. In fact, she deemed the police’s handling of the situation as downright disrespectful.
“One of them said, ‘see what I tell you? De parent black-garish, that’s why he so’, the mother reported, adding that while she fully understood that police have a job to do, “there is a right way and there is a proper way of doing things.
“Dre is a minor and I as a mother cannot fathom the idea of policemen locking off my 17 year old son’s neck and then got the nerve to threaten my child and tell my child that if he had been the one to pick him up, he would be six feet down and he would have said that my child run way from them. I have problem with that. Who is going to protect us from the police?” she queried.
“If they find my child was disrespectful, I understand. Put him in his place, but do not treat my child like a common criminal. He is far from that. Any human being would be upset if anybody approached them in that manner,” said the mother of the young man who was once dubbed a hero after he rescued a tourist who encountered difficulties at Browne’s Beach earlier in the year.
When contacted this evening, Public Relations Officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler confirmed the incident, saying officers attached to the Worthing Police Station responded to a report at the camp and during their investigations, had reason to speak to the young man.
“They would have asked him for his name and address based on his behaviour. He failed to give his name and address, which is an arrestable offence, [so] he was taken to the station and his parents contacted.”
Cobbler also said the 17-year-old was warned of intended prosecution for the alleged offence and released into the custody of his parents.
“The youngster was aggressive but the police still tried to deal with him in a manner which is civil,” the police spokesman said, adding that “if the parents have any complaints about the action or if they feel the police’s conduct was unprofessional they have the right to go to the Police Office of Professional Responsibility and file a complaint”.
However, he cautioned that “failing to give your name and address is an arrestable offence.
“If the police are carrying out an investigation and ask your name and address based on any suspicion, you are supposed to give your name and address,” Cobbler stressed.
However, in response, Dre’s mother asked: “When I complain for the police to the police, what is going to happen there? I am not comfortable with the way they have handled the matter, they have lied about the things they have done. I feel very uncomfortable with the fact that they threatened my child.
“I am fearful for his life, in the event something happens, or they wanna retaliate,” she also said, while further questioning: “Who is going to deal with them, because I know all the police are not bad, . . . but who is going to deal with this bad batch to set them straight?”