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Man dies in police custody, leaving unanswered questions

by Barbados Today
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A grieving family at Chalky Mount, St Andrew have vowed to leave no stone in their quest to find out what really happened to their relative, Colin MacDonald Greene, who police say was found hanging in a prisoner’s cell at the Holetown Police Station.

Already, relatives are contending that many police claims about the circumstances surrounding the 43-year-old man’s death are simply not adding up. They cited a chilling message from Greene in the hours before his death in which he claimed he feared for his personal safety.

In a statement on Monday, the Royal Barbados Police Force disclosed that around midnight on Saturday, November 13, officers discovered Greene’s unresponsive body hanging while making routine checks on suspects in the station’s custody.

“On the officers’ initial discovery, checks for a sign of life were made and none was found, a medical doctor was immediately summoned and after his examination, he pronounced [death],” said the statement released on Monday afternoon.

Across the windswept rural community where Greene once lived, many raised suspicions about the possibility of foul play as they openly grieved a man who was loved and respected in the iconic village, the home of centuries-old clay pottery.

At the home of Greene’s mother, loud, uninhibited wailing pierced the air. Two of her adult children said they feared the news of her second child’s death could prove a burden too heavy to bear.

Roberto Greene recalled identifying his older brother’s lifeless body as he lay bare-chested in a body bag at the Holetown Police Station, with a patch over his forehead and a band-aid on the veins of his inner elbow, suggesting he had been on intravenous drips.

He told Barbados TODAY: “There were no marks around his neck that you could show me that he was hanging in a cell. You can’t see any marks and my brother’s complexion is clear and you can’t see any signs of anything like that.

“They said the shirt had been held as part of the investigation. They didn’t want me to go down there [in the cell] to see where this thing supposedly happened.”

Roberto revealed that on November 2, his brother turned himself in to police apparently after wounding another man in an altercation. The injured man was reportedly treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital before being discharged.

Colin later tested positive for COVID-19 whilst in police custody and was placed in isolation at the Savannah Hotel until Friday, November when he was transferred to the Hastings Police Station after being cleared of the highly infectious virus.

The grieving brother said police were supposed to inform Colin’s attorney-at-law, Sally Comissiong, before transferring him from isolation. Apparently, this was not done and the lawyer was unaware that her client was once again in a holding cell.

Roberto charged that In just about 24 hours, on Saturday night, the suspect was transferred to Holetown and by midnight, he was dead. Throughout the entire ordeal, Colin had never been charged with an offence and after his death, police were unable to provide his cellular phone, the distraught sibling said.

“Up to now, he didn’t get charged. He died and he ain’t get charged yet,” said Roberto Greene, who described his outgoing brother as a “straightforward” person who “does not back down from a challenge”.

“Even on Friday evening, he told his girlfriend that the way these policemen are moving around him, they are moving like they want to beat him,” he added.

Roberto explained that the entire family was devastated about the troubling turn of events and vowed to pursue justice.

He told Barbados TODAY: “The lawyer said that nobody ever contacted her. Up to today I went and looked for the lawyer because there must be some kind of inquiry or something into this matter. I have to get an autopsy for my brother too because right now, their explanation is rubbish.

“This is devastating for the whole family and the whole community… There are so many questions. Why would I turn myself in to the police to hang myself with a shirt in the police’s cell?”

kareemsmith@barbadostoday.bb

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