By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
JUSTICE Indra Charles on Friday found that the Royal Bahamas Police Force were liable for an incident in 2015 that culminated in the arrest of a civil servant at his home.
Gilford Lloyd, a Senior Fisheries Officer at the Department of Marine Resources brought a civil action against Chief Supt Theophilus Cunningham, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and the Attorney General concerning an incident at his Yellow Elder Gardens home on January 9, 2015 to search for someone who did not live there.
Lloyd, sought damages for unlawful entry, assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and punitive damages, among other reliefs and declarations from the Supreme Court.
Lloyd testified that around 10pm on the date in question, police officers reportedly under the command of Chief Supt Cunningham, kicked down the door of Mr Lloyd’s home, identified themselves as police, placed a gun to his head, ordered him to get down on the ground.
Lloyd, in shock at the situation, wet himself, and asked to be able to use the restroom.
After being allowed to do so, he was handcuffed and brought outside to one of seven police cars that were in the street, with his neighbours looking on.
After some 30 minutes, Chief Supt Cunningham reportedly looked him over and ordered his release. It was at this time that he noticed the front door of his home had been damaged.
He was able to determine the identity of the commanding officer because junior officers at the scene referred to the surname and rank of the senior officer, the court was told.
After doing an online search, he learned the full name of the senior officer who was conducting the operation and ordered his eventual release.
Lloyd called a neighbour, Nelson Strachan, to testify in his defence and Strachan told the court that when the brigade of police cars had first arrived and officers indicated that they were looking for a ‘Dominic’, he reportedly told them that the individual they were looking for lived on the next street.
However, the officers reportedly ignored him and barged into the home where they later brought Lloyd out in cuffs.
Chief Supt Cunningham, in his testimony before Justice Charles, denied that he was ever present and therefore could not have ordered or conducted the operation that resulted in Lloyd’s detention and duress.
He further noted that for the period of October 2014 to March 2015, he was responsible for operations concerning Eastern districts of New Providence and that Yellow Elder did not fall within that area.
Justice Charles on Friday said that she had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses who gave evidence.
“It is always difficult for a judge to tell who is telling the truth when the evidence is divergent (but) I am fortified that I believe the evidence of the plaintiff,” the judge said.
She also accepted the evidence of Strachan, which she said corroborated what Lloyd had said under oath.
She found that the police were liable for the incident that occurred at Lloyd’s home.
The judge said the quantum of damags will be determined at a hearing on November 1 at which time the full judgment should be available.
However, she added that this did not exclude the legal parties from reaching an agreed sum on damages that should be awarded to Mr Lloyd.
Christina Galanos and Bjorn Ferguson appeared for Mr Lloyd while Kenrah Newry appeared for the Crown.