By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
ALTHOUGH he complained of difficulty breathing and was vomiting blood, Aaron Rolle’s repeated pleas for medical attention were ignored by police – with one officer suggesting the prisoner would learn a lesson from his injuries – the Coroner’s Court was told yesterday.
Rolle, 20, died as a result of blunt force trauma at the Southern Police Station on February 8, hours after he was taken into custody for questioning in relation to armed robbery and escape allegations.
A pathologist report said he died from haemorrhaging and a ruptured intestine. He also had two broken ribs, bleeding in the bowel and contusions on his lower back, shoulder blade and left clavicle.
Cordero Munroe, a fellow detainee at the Southern Police Station said that when he drew attention to the fact that Rolle was “puking blood and in extreme pain” after returning to his cell following a police interview, an officer responded: “He won’t try that shit again. He won’t try to escape from here no more.”
Munroe said he was taken into custody on February 7, for a traffic infraction, and was put in the holding cell next to Rolle.
He said he and Rolle along with another man who he identified as Corporal Bain, talked and socialised on Thursday night.
Munroe said Rolle was asking for advice and encouragement and said he was “tired of being in police custody and just wanted to confess and do his jail time.”
He said Rolle also expressed fear that officers would beat him for “making them look bad” when he escaped custody in October.
Munroe said Friday morning when he awoke, Rolle was not in his cell and he assumed that Rolle had gone to court to be arraigned.
However, Munroe said Rolle returned to the cell block later that afternoon “with his head held down and looking like he was in pain.”
Munroe said he asked Rolle what was wrong and Rolle replied he was beaten and thought his ribs were broken.
He said Rolle kept complaining that he was in pain and was “breathing funny and throwing up blood.” Munroe said Rolle was having trouble speaking, so he called one of the officers on Rolle’s behalf and told him that Rolle was in pain and needed to go to the hospital.
This was the officer who, Munroe said, suggested that Rolle would learn a lesson.
Munroe said he told at least four officers that Rolle was in pain, but all of the officers ignored him except one who promised to take Rolle to the hospital, but never came back.
He said Rolle began asking to use the bathroom frequently and his groaning became louder and louder as the night progressed. Munroe said around 1am Friday, a Haitian was put in the cell with Rolle and he began to complain that Rolle “smelled funny and was puking blood.”
Munroe said a few hours later an officer came to give Rolle water and he told the officer once again that Rolle was in pain and needed to see a doctor, but the officer “did nothing.”
An hour later Munroe said Rolle screamed: “Who is this coming in my cell?” and then died.
Munroe admitted, when asked by Ms Galanos, that he did not say everything he knew when initially interviewed by officers.
He said he omitted information in his report out of fear, because he was still in custody and the officers had “just killed somebody.”
Munroe also said that Rolle never specifically said it was the police that beat him, but he assumed it was because they were the ones that took him out of the cell.
Also testifying was Sergeant 596 Shevard Bain. Bain testified that he was the supervisor of the Inquiries Section at the time Rolle was brought in for questioning. He also said he had prepared the initial wanted poster for Rolle when he escaped in October and also took his mug shots on February 7.
Haflway through his testimony, the jury was taken to the Southern Police Station to view the inquiries room from which Rolle is alleged to have attempted to escape and the holding cell where he died.
While there Bain showed the jury the window that Rolle tried to jump out of and despite having panels across it, Bain said it is “possible for someone to get out if they wanted to.”
He said the aluminium panels were “old and frail” and could easily come out with force. In fact, he said, someone had attempted to escape from another window at the station before and the person “carried the panels with them when they pushed through.”
Bain also testified that when he heard the commotion he went into the inquiries room where he found Rolle handcuffed and sitting on a chair, however several pieces of furniture were overturned.
He said he closed the windows closest to Rolle to prevent him attempting to escape a second time.
The inquiry continues today at 10am.