Attorney Christina Galanos, left, and anti-murder activist Khandi Gibson speaking to members of the media yesterday.
Photo: Tim Clarke/Tribune Staff
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
KHANDI Gibson, founder and president the local advocacy group Families of All Murder Victims (FOAM), yesterday sought to clarify the circumstances surrounding her recent arrest and release in connection with an ongoing murder investigation.
Speaking in the presence of her lawyer, Christina Galanos, Ms Gibson said despite her disdain for the conditions in which she was detained, she holds no malice towards police officers, but does “see them in a different light”.
Ms Gibson was arrested in connection with a homicide on August 10 along with 14 other suspects. She was released last Saturday after police requested several extensions to her time in custody. She has not been charged with any offence.
Ms Gibson said the ordeal not only brought her clarity on what “innocently held” persons go through after an arrest, but why her outreach initiative is so important to the lives of victims.
Recalling the night of her arrest, she said that around 8pm, five to six officers entered her home. After requesting that officers produce a warrant to search her home she was placed in custody, detained on the premise of conspiracy.
She said the arrest was in connection to the death of 36-year-old Jamal Huyler, a BTC employee who was fatally shot at a food stand while getting breakfast on August 10.
As a result of her experience, Ms Gibson said that the way the RBPF handles those who are helping with investigations needs to be improved because it leaves those falsely accused or arrested exposed to potential retaliations.
“At the end of the day, when the police put your name out there and say that you are actually arrested or they say they have persons detained – and people think that it is you – it causes the family, the relatives and friends to look at you sideways like “this person could be involved in my loved one’s murder.”
“So where does that leave the 15 of us who were locked up for this murder? We are actually out there now, probably could even be sitting ducks, because once persons believe that you have something to do with their loved one’s murder they don’t care.”
She added: “You know it is so sad when police can hold you for something you have no knowledge of and propaganda spreads of you.”
Ms Gibson went on to urge the government to find ways to improve the conditions of its police stations. She added that women are forced to brave adverse conditions to address the minor issues they face while in custody.
She described the process of being taken between four different holding stations in a 24-hour period because a female officer was not on duty.
She also recalled an incident of trying to alert a female guard, discreetly, about her menstrual cycle but was made to do so in the presence of a male officer because the female officer opted to discuss the matter openly.
She said her ordeal also took a toll on her family.
“I saw the hurt in my son’s eyes,” she said. “That hurt me more than anything else.”
Despite the incident, Ms Gibson said her organisation will continue “business as usual.”
FOAM is a non-profit organisation founded in 2012. It aims to assist people whose relatives were murdered or were victims of crime.