Suspect helped to ambulance
By RICARDO WELLS
& RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporters
A LAWYER whose client was taken from the Central Detective Unit by emergency medical services this week say pictures capture the bruises the man allegedly sustained in custody.
The pictures, taken at the Elizabeth Estates Police Station on Tuesday night, were seen by The Tribune yesterday. They show bruises on the man’s arm and ribs. According to Christina Galanos, the man claimed he was shocked with a Taser and beaten by about seven officers who wanted information from him. She said he also alleged his “chest and side tightened after the beating when he was placed in a cell at CDU,” prompting the call for an ambulance.
Ms Galanos said Dr Christa Wells prescribed drugs which are used to relieve pain and treat certain stomach and esophagus problems.
Chief Superintendent of Police Solomon Cash did not respond to The Tribune’s messages concerning the matter yesterday. On Tuesday he said officers told him the man experienced a health problem and needed medical attention.
For his part, National Security Minister Marvin Dames said lawyers like Ms Galanos “know the process” for dealing with their concerns, suggesting they can make a complaint.
He told reporters: “I often say that we have a right to ensure and protect the rights of each and every Bahamian no matter who they are, but while we focus on the defence attorney, let’s focus on the victims of crime, those individuals who are maimed and attacked.
“I don’t see many people standing up for them. Let’s focus on those Bahamians who stand up and say I will not allow the few in our society to destroy it. And then they have to be put into witness protection because those few then turn their venom toward them.
“I mean everyone has a right, so if someone feels aggrieved there is a process by which to do that. But I am not here to speak or defend any defence attorney. Let’s work on making this Bahamas better for every Bahamian.”
Ms Galanos, in response, said the current “processes” are flawed in part because the Complaints and Corruption Unit of the RBPF cannot be trusted to investigate fellow officers.
“The proper and correct process is that you thoroughly investigate these matters and the correct process does not involve beating suspects under any circumstances unless they are posing a threat or they are putting someone’s life in danger and you have to respond to that in kind,” she said. “It’s because defence counsel know the process that we are challenging what is going on so I agree with them, we know the process. As minister of national security he ought to know the process as well and we say based on all that has transpired in a couple of weeks that the process is not being followed.”
Ms Galanos offered a solution to concerns about police brutality in custody: widespread adoption of surveillance cameras.
“If they want to prove once and for all that this is not going on, let cameras cover every square inch of CDU and any other place that you interrogate someone,” she said. “And it has to be everywhere because if you just say CDU they may take suspects out to the beach and do what they want with them. Essentially, suspects should be on camera for the entire process. If he’s in the cell block, there should be a camera covering him in the cell block. If you move him from the cell block to an office to ask him some questions, there should be cameras in that office and along the walk-way. The cameras should be controlled by a separate command centre. From the point of his arrest to his time in the car to when he walks in the station, everything should be covered.”
Critics have criticised the investigation process into allegations against police.
Last week’s US Human Rights Report revealed that the Police Complaints Inspectorate, which should oversee the police Complaints and Corruption Branch, hasn’t met since September 2017. Mr Dames, who hasn’t appointed anyone to the body, suggested there is a “process” underway to deal with this.
“…We are working on recruitment,” he said. “This is not an overnight fix… You know there is a view that we are going to solve this overnight, and (the public is) saying this is becoming more and more––where are the statistics on it? You see, we are living in a world where every incident is magnified. And every incident is one too many, don’t get me wrong.
“We are taking steps to improve the relations between the police and the community. We have done more in this administration than in any administration in the history of this country. As I said before, the training that we are doing, and you can go down to the police college and see the training, the sensitivity training and the training where persons from civil society are involved, we have never seen that before. I mean we may have seen it, very limited, but we are seeing more of that today. So the point that I am making is, this is a process and steps are being taken to revolutionize and professionalize these agencies so that it will minimise some of the problems that we are seeing out there.
“And recognise too, that while there are legitimate complaints, we understand too that there are individuals who go out there and make false complaints against police. Once that is done, that person’s career is put on pause,” Mr Dames said.