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Officers Sued Over Illegal Detention

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

A MAN is suing the commissioner of police and three of his subordinates after police detained him for almost three days for having an illegal firearm and ammunition, which was later discovered to have possibly been planted by two of the officers who subsequently fabricated evidence to suggest they caught him with it.

Dominic Johnson, 28, is suing Constable 3674 Taylor, Corporal 2766 Rolle as well as their supervisor Detective Constable 3629 Mills for falsely imprisoning him for 62 hours after wrongfully arresting him at Club 40/40 just three days before Christmas in 2017.

Attorney General Carl Bethel is listed as a fifth defendant due to his responsibility for providing legal representation to The Bahamas’ government, its agencies and officials acting in their official capacities.

The action comes roughly six months after Senior Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis ordered that Cpl Rolle and P/C Taylor be charged with perjury and investigated for the “egregious” false narrative they painted in their police reports concerning Johnson’s arrest.

At the time, Magistrate Rolle-Davis said the officers’ evidence was in “direct conflict” with the video surveillance footage obtained from the club, and said it was “clear that the police planted this weapon or at best discovered a weapon where (Johnson) was not, at the time of discovery.”

Magistrate Rolle-Davis also found the subsequent investigation of D/C Mills to be “without competence” and “woeful at best”, and recommended at the time that D/C Mills “should also be reprimanded”.

According to the writ, filed on December 13, 2018 by his attorney Bjorn Ferguson, Johnson intends to fully rely on Magistrate Rolle-Davis’ ruling, as well as the officers’ actions to date “insofar as they have failed to make a full and proper apology” for the way he was treated.

According to Cpl Rolle’s report, while on routine mobile patrol sometime after 11.15pm on December 22, 2017, the crew of Alpha Bravo Tango #1, which consisted of himself, Superintendent K Neely, and P/C Taylor, were conducting an inspection at the 40/40 Restaurant and Bar.

Cpl Rolle said he observed a dark male walk off to the restroom at a “fast pace”. As a result, Cpl Rolle and P/C Taylor gave chase where the former observed the man remove a black handgun out of his waistband and drop it into the toilet tank.

Cpl Rolle’s report said he and P/C Taylor subdued the suspect, then used a plastic glove and removed the firearm from the toilet. Upon closer inspection of the weapon, Cpl Rolle said in his report he realised it was a Taurus 9mm which contained six live rounds.

Cpl Rolle said he then cautioned and arrested the man who gave his name as Dominic Michael Johnson of Kent Drive, Coral Harbour.

He was handcuffed and searched, then placed in a marked police vehicle and taken to the Carmichael Road Police Station. The firearm and the six rounds and magazine were initialed.

According to a report from D/C Mills dated December 23, 2017, while on duty at the Anti-Gang and Fire Investigation Unit on December 23, he saw and spoke with Detective Sergeant 2600 McKinney who gave him a black Taurus 9mm pistol with the serial number erased; one black magazine and six rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Det Sgt McKinney also informed him a suspect, Dominic Johnson, of Kent Drive, Coral Harbour was in custody in reference to those items.

Sometime around 4.35pm on that date, D/C Mills interviewed Johnson in the presence of Detective Corporal 2422 Ward and his attorney Wilver Deleveaux. Johnson was shown the firearm, the ammunition and the magazine, and was also asked certain questions, all of which he replied to by saying “I refuse all questions.”

At the end of the interview, Johnson was asked to read over the record of interview and initial his name, but replied “I refuse to read and sign anything.” However, his attorney asked to read over the record of interview and was allowed to do so.

Afterwards, D/C Mills and D/C Ward signed and dated the record of interview. At the conclusion of his investigation, D/C Mills further cautioned and charged Johnson with possession of an unlicenced firearm and ammunition.

D/C Mills then marked the weapon and ammunition and submitted them to the police forensic laboratory.

All in all, Johnson was detained for 62 hours at the Carmichael Road Police Station pending his court appearance before Magistrate Rolle-Davis. He was subsequently released on bail.

Mr Ferguson, upon receipt of the video surveillance footage from the proprietor of Club 40/40, showed the footage to two police prosecutors prior to trial, and sought to have the matter withdrawn as the officers’ evidence contradicted the video footage.

However, both prosecutors refused to withdraw and insisted the matter proceed to trial.

But during the trial, when the video footage was shown, and the evidence of Cpl Rolle and P/C Taylor presented to the court, Magistrate Rolle-Davis ruled that both were “clearly in contradiction” of one another. He found the matter to be “egregious” and ordered the two officers to be “investigated and charges levied against them for perjury before the court.”

Magistrate Rolle-Davis said accordingly, Johnson is found not guilty of the charges on both counts, and was acquitted on October 21.

Now, Johnson is asserting that he was “prosecuted by the defendants maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause.” He further claims he suffered “constant fear and anxiety” as a result of the “groundless” case against him, and further claims he has suffered a “psychiatric reaction” as a result of his arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and fear of incarceration.

As such, he is seeking damages for false imprisonment; malicious prosecution, and aggravated and exemplary damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Johnson is also seeking general damages and interest on all damages pursuant to the Civil Procedure (Award of Interest) Act, 1992; such further or other relief as the court deems just, and legal costs.

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