The umbrella body for private public service vehicle (PSV) operators has called on Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith to launch a full and thorough investigation into an incident, which reportedly occurred in the River Terminal, The City, earlier today involving a conductor and a police officer.
During the altercation, which was captured on video, the uniformed officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) – Police Constable 2077 Denis Murray – was seen repeatedly punching and kicking at least once a conductor – 30-year-old Travis Tremaine Brathwaite, of Sealy Hall, St Philip – who was also throwing punches at the officer, while onlookers openly expressed their bewilderment.
“You believe this policeman here start to beat up this man here for nutten,” exclaimed the woman who was responsible for the video recording, while others, including some who tried to part the confrontation, suggested that the attack was “personal”.
A second video has also been circulating allegedly of the same officer involved in a bloody brawl at another public event.
However, in a statement this evening the RBPF dealt strictly with this morning’s incident, which occurred in the River Terminal around 8:45 a.m.
As a result, the Force said two PSV workers had been arrested and charged, including Brathwaite for obstructing, resisting and assaulting Murray in the execution of his duty, as well as causing criminal damage to one police uniform shirt, the property of the Crown.
Another PSV conductor – 34-year-old James Anthony Andrews, of Apple Hall Terrace, St Philip – was charged with threatening and assaulting Police Constable 2214 Donette Cadogan in the execution of her duty, soliciting passengers and being improperly attired.
Both accused are to appear in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court tomorrow, the police statement added.
However, in light of today’s incident, which has gone viral on social media and has been a source of public outrage, several drivers and conductors who operate from the River Terminal are complaining bitterly of harassment by police.
“Every single day in here it is a problem, the officers are very aggressive towards the drivers in here and this morning was uncalled for,” said one driver, who said he witnessed this morning’s incident and believes the male officer in question should be charged with disorderly conduct and assault.
While admitting that the presence of police usually brings order to the terminal, another driver described the treatment meted out to them by members of the RBPF as unfair.
“The police officers in here wicked. They believe that they are above the law. If you think van men does do foolishness, come in here on evenings and see the policemen and their foolishness when they finish drink beers in uniforms at that shop over there and come back aggressive, aggressive,” he said.
Also commenting on today’s incident, driver Deryck Maynard said he felt threatened.
“If something as small as loading in the back and coming forward could get you throw about and beat up, imagine if it was something bigger,” he said, while maintaining that the “conductor get unfair today” and “that was not right”.
However, his colleague John Primer told Barbados TODAY he did not feel targeted in any way. In fact, he said he appreciated the presence of officers to restore order to a rowdy terminal.
Two other drivers, who did not want to be named, agreed with Primer, but said “some officers liked to show off their power and as a result get very aggressive with van men and conductors”.
The Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) today demanded a meeting with the police chief “to discuss all the issues occurring in this terminal whether it be behaviour or deportment.
“We wish to make it clear that our guys are required to apply to all regulations and we are firm on this. Our workers must obey and respect police, but we also want the respect to be reciprocal so that it is a cordial and harmonious environment,” AOPT Public Relations Officer Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY, adding that one of the key issues to be addressed was the aggressive behaviour displayed by some cops.
While stressing the need for the police high command to take a detailed look at the incident, Haynes said AOPT plans to proceed with its own investigation into the matter. He also revealed that a representative from the National Union of Public Workers will be touring the terminal next week to hear first hand the concerns of PSV workers.