Officers sued for alleged brutality

Several Royal Cayman Islands Police officers are named in lawsuits filed on behalf of two men who accused those officers of using violence to force them to confess to a 2004 robbery and burglary.

The men were let go in March 2005 after a jury hearing their case was ordered to return a not guilty verdict. Justice Priya Levers ruled the defendants’ confessions to be inadmissible in court.

‘I make no bones about it, in this case there was police brutality,’ Justice Levers told the jury hearing the case in March 2005. (See Caymanian Compass, 10 March, 2005)

However, Mrs. Levers also noted during the trial that she couldn’t determine whether the men had committed the crimes they were accused of or not. She said Crown prosecutors had simply not established that the men’s statements were given voluntarily.

One of the defendants in the 2004 criminal case, Christopher McCardy Miller, filed a writ of summons in May, which stated three detective constables and a detective sergeant were responsible ‘for personal injury, damage and loss sustained in police custody as a result of deliberate and malicious acts of assault and battery committed at various times and places against the plaintiff (Mr. Miller) on 27 May, 2004.’

The writ also names the Attorney General as the fifth defendant in his official capacity and claims he is ‘vicariously liable for the conduct of the other defendants, who committed the assaults whilst in the course of their employment as agents of the Crown.’

Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Bulgin has not responded to e-mailed requests for comment on the writ.

During the 2005 trial, Mr. Miller said he had been beaten from the time of his arrest on 27 May, 2004, and during a subsequent police interview. Police said there was no record of him having injuries when he was locked down for the night following his arrest, but Justice Levers said Mr. Miller was taken to hospital the next morning.

The doctor who examined him said Mr. Miller was badly bruised and had injuries around his neck and ears. He said the injuries appeared to have been caused by blunt instruments.

The second defendant from the 2004 case, Ezekiel Carter, claims that four detective constables and a detective sergeant were responsible for ‘personal injury, damage and loss sustained in police custody and afterwards as a result of deliberate and malicious acts of assault, battery, wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office committed at various times and places against the plaintiff (Mr. Carter) on and after his arrest.’

Mr. Carter’s writ of summons also names the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General in their official capacities as being ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of the officers.

Mr. Bulgin also did not respond to requests for comment on Mr. Carter’s case. Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, who was not in that job when the robbery and burglary case occurred, declined to comment.

During the trial on the burglary and robbery charges, Mr. Carter also said he had been beaten by the police. However, there was no evidence presented at trial, other than his statements, to show that beating had occurred.

Justice Levers ruled that alleged violence, along with some inaccuracies found in trial about Mr. Carter’s interview, made his confession to the crimes inadmissible.

A third defendant in the burglary and robbery trial also said he had been hit by police. But again, no other evidence of that taking place was presented at trial.

The 2005 trial also raised some issues about the credibility of the police testimony presented.

Justice Levers pointed out that officers had not recorded their interviews with the defendants, Mr. Miller and Mr. Carter, on an audio or video device. She said two officers had taken notes which later proved to be erroneous. One officer admitted he was too lazy to take notes, according to the judge.

The judge also described police evidence as ‘appallingly contradictory,’ and noted there was confusion over things like who was the arresting officer, and on what date a defendant had been interviewed.

A trial date for the civil lawsuits filed by Messrs. Carter and Miller had not been set by press time.