Not guilty of assaulting police

A case that began in 2003 ended last week when Magistrate Grace Donalds found Howard Antonio Wright not guilty of all charges against him.

Two of the charges alleged that Wright had assaulted police officers, causing actual bodily harm to one. The third charge was carrying an offensive weapon. Other charges included driving dangerously, failing to stop after an accident and leaving the scene of an accident.

The series of incidents, which culminated on Linford Pierson Highway, attracted public attention to the point that then-Commissioner of Police David Thursfield issued a press release about it (Caymanian Compass, 4 July 2003).

Wright, now 31, had pleaded not guilty to all charges. Attorney Keith Collins defended him.

The magistrate summed up the evidence that led to her verdicts of not guilty.

One police officer testified that as a result of report received, he went to an area of Bodden Town and observed Wright coming out of a house and carrying two machetes. Wright got into a motor vehicle and proceeded to drive toward George Town.

Wright said at the time that he was taking the machetes to get sharpened.

Wright further testified that, as he was approaching the roundabout near King’s Sports Centre, another vehicle changed direction and swerved into the side of his car. He said he proceeded along Crewe Road in an attempt to find the driver, who had not stopped.

At Jose’s gas station he turned toward the Linford Pierson Highway. There his vehicle was forced to the side of the road and stopped.

One of the police officers told the court he approached Wright’s vehicle and pushed his hand through the window, receiving a cut.

The defendant said the officer’s arm was cut by the broken glass in the window when the officer reached through and grabbed him to handcuff him. He further stated that the same officer threw rocks, smashing the front windscreen.

The injured officer and another said that a third officer eventually reached into Wright’s car and took possession of the machetes from the defendant. Wright himself was then grabbed out of the car, put on the ground and handcuffed.

The magistrate pointed to the evidence of another police officer, who said Wright had come out of the car with the machetes in his hands. This officer maintained that he took the machetes from Wright after he emerged from the vehicle.

This was a material inconsistency in the Crown’s evidence and there were others, the magistrate said. She found that the Crown had failed to discharge the burden of proof to the requisite standard of beyond reasonable doubt.

On the series of driving charges, the Crown failed to adduce any evidence in support of them, so Wright was accordingly acquitted.

Mr. Collins had called two witnesses for the Defence.

One woman said she came upon the scene and observed Wright trying to get out of the car. But as he moved from one side to the other, a man on the outside threw a stone at one window and broke it, preventing Wright from exiting. When Wright moved to the other door, the man outside also moved to do the same thing.

A man told the court he saw Wright on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind him and another man kicking him. When he stopped and spoke to the group he was told to move on.