The suspect is helped to a waiting ambulance in a still from the video.
Suspect helped to ambulance
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
EMERGENCY medical services were called to the Central Detective Unit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force yesterday to help a man who was allegedly beaten in custody, according to his lawyer Christina Galanos.
Ms Galanos recorded a four-second video showing the man, bent over in distress, being taken into an ambulance outside CDU.
The attorney, who believes her client was beaten to make a confession, declined to reveal the identity of the man.
This is the latest allegation of beatings in police custody. Criminal lawyers insist it is a chronic problem and they are upset by the way law enforcement, political and judicial officials have traditionally handled the issue.
For his part, Chief Superintendent Solomon Cash, head of the Central Detective Unit, said officers told him the suspect experienced a medical issue and required attention. He said he was not aware of any accusation of police brutality.
Ms Galanos said: “I was hired to see a client at CDU. I went there around 11am. While waiting on him I was reliably informed by an inside source that he was beaten and that they called the ambulance for him. I was called on the outside by ASP Cox and he told me my client is ‘complaining of shortness of breath and we called the ambulance for him.’ I said ‘okay Officer Cox, why is he complaining of shortness of breath?’ (He said) ‘I can’t say, I just know the man is complaining of shortness of breath.’
“The ambulance came and I recorded them escorting my client out to the ambulance. It looked to me that something happened to him and police are now trying to cover it up and do their usual evasive talk and evasive dance.”
The video does not show a front view of the man, but Ms Galanos said her client was holding his face, crying and shaking his head while looking on the ground.
Ms Galanos said her source did not say why her client was allegedly beaten. “What I can say,” she said, “is that nine times out of ten, most every time a client has complained to me about being beaten, it had to do with a confession, or if not a confession (police) feel a person knows about the crime and they are trying to get the person to call a name of someone.
“I’ve been concerned about this for years now,” she said. “What we see happening as criminal defence attorneys is very often these matters are coming before the court with confessions only. It cuts both ways. Let’s say the man truly is guilty, but was beaten to confess and in the case of my client I got on video that he was taken by way of ambulance so the judge may throw out the confession. What you may have is a guilty man may walk on a murder charge because some police officer abused his powers. What I’m more concerned about are the people who are innocent. They are beaten and made to confess and when it goes up to trial they may not have any injuries or their injuries aren’t significant enough for a judge to throw a matter out and and most juries don’t know anything about the legal system and how the police operate, so they may well convict on this confession. So what you have now is an innocent man who was beaten by police to confess, now convicted of a serious crime. This is why I think it’s important to sensitise the public on these issues.”
Top police officials have yet to speak substantively on recent allegations of police brutality. Last month, Shavar Bain Sr, a man whose son was kidnapped, alleged CDU officers beat him to confess to a scheme to kidnap his son. Deputy Commissioner of Police Emrick Seymour could not update this newspaper on the investigation into that incident last week, saying it is ongoing.
The Tribune reported recently the allegations of three people who claim CDU officers tortured them for confessions in Eleuthera last year before releasing them without charge. They said they were handcuffed and fish-bagged until they could not breathe. They filed a complaint with the Complaints and Corruption Unit of the RBPF, but police took more than a year to get back to them, then told them that the time for their complaint to be addressed had expired.
Last week, a US human rights report on the Bahamas noted that the Police Complaints Inspectorate, which should oversee the Complaints and Corruption Unit to ensure impartial investigations into allegations against police, has not had a meeting in almost two years. National Security Minister Marvin Dames has not appointed anyone to the body even though the Police Act mandates that the inspectorate be constituted.