Officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) are again being threatened with criminal charges arising from their alleged treatment of citizens in the course of their duties.
Attorney-at-Law Asante Brathwaite on Thursday, revealed that one of her clients would be bringing charges of assault and battery arising from the execution of a search warrant that left 32-year-old Aisha Jones nursing injuries to her stomach, back, throat and foot.
In an interview outside the Oistins Police Station, Jones, who lives at Golden Rock, Pinelands, St Michael, disclosed that officers arrived at her home around 5 a.m. on Tuesday with a warrant to search her house. Instead of searching, they arrested her mother, Mary Clarke, on accusations of theft.
But the real trouble reportedly occurred around 3:15 p.m., when seven male officers returned to search the house and her brother Alphonzo Jones raised objections.
“The sergeant came through the door, grabbed my brother by his hand and said ‘you are under arrest’. My brother asked what he was under arrest for like anybody would and started to stiffen up, and everybody started to cover him,” Aisha recounted.
“So I said, ‘he is entitled to know what he is being arrested for, and all of you police are wicked’. The sergeant then choked me onto the wall and put his knee into my back and said, ‘I does beat b***** like you. I said, ‘suppose I was six weeks pregnant?’”
According to her, the police officer suggested that he would “kick” the child out of her “guts” put her in a cell, she alleged.
The young mother said what was even more painful, is that she is recovering from a hysterectomy, which she claims was exacerbated by an officer placing pressure on her stomach. Her eight-year-old son and six-year-old nephew are also said to be traumatised.
When Barbados TODAY visited the Oistins station to inquire about the claims, an unnamed officer indicated there was no one present who could address the matter in the public domain.
Clarke, who was also at the station, indicated that she was released on station bail on Wednesday night, but her son was still at the station and had not yet been formally charged.
Further inquiries reveal that the allegations of theft against Clarke stemmed from a dispute over her power of attorney in relation to an 84-year-old man. Relatives of the elderly man’s deceased wife are said to have accused Clarke of stealing jewellery and a 40-inch television – a claim which she vehemently denies. From all reports, the police have not recovered the allegedly stolen items.
Police have also expressed an intention to charge Alphonzo with using threatening words over the phone to a citizen involved in the dispute and for assaulting the officers on Tuesday.
Brathwaite, a junior counsel at Michael Lashley and Associates, has advised her client to lodge a complaint with the police complaints authority as she brings a cross charge for assault and battery.
“We have a medical report in that regard, so we will be pursuing the cross charge in the criminal court, and then we will be heading upstairs for compensation and I’ll be hoping to bring it under the Constitution for inhumane and degrading treatment from an officer of the state,” the Attorney declared.
Brathwaite revealed that the station sergeant on duty informed her that, to the best of his knowledge, his officers had been assaulted and that he was happy that none of them was injured.
“I don’t know the fullness of the facts. I can only speak with regard to my client’s position. But even if the officer is saying that the client was behaving in a hostile manner, there are other ways to restrain someone who is behaving in a hostile manner. I don’t believe a male officer should be choking a female. I believe that other measures could have been taken if it was a position that the citizen was behaving hostile,” the attorney contended.
The young lawyer is no stranger to the issue of police brutality and has made numerous complaints in the interest of improving relations between the force and the public.
And, she continues to go on record in support of calls from the Barbados Bar Association for an independent police complaints body with greater impartiality and accountability.
“If we look at police brutality in Barbados, you would see that this is an ongoing issue that we have. Even before I came into the legal fraternity, it was an ongoing issue and to me, nothing fundamental has changed.
“The same unreasonable tactics, force and violence are being used. So I am saying that it is only when average citizens who see officers using unreasonable force during the execution of their duties called them out for their actions, only then will citizens say ‘our voices are being heard’. But for now, it would appear that police can do as they like and there is nothing that ordinary citizens can do. And I believe the Commissioner really needs to address that,” Brathwaite concluded.