Suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police Rudolph Dixon denied in court Friday that he ordered the release of a retired senior officer who was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in April 2004.
Dixon is charged alternatively with misconduct in office and doing an act tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice in connection with the arrest of former Deputy Commissioner of Police Rudolph Evans.
In the witness box, Dixon, 47, answered questions by his attorney, Jonathan Rose, about what had transpired on the evening of 7 April 2004.
Dixon told Justice Charles Quin and the jury of four women and three men he was at home when Inspector Burmon Scott called him on his mobile phone. Mr. Scott told him Mr. Evans had been arrested for driving under the influence.
Dixon testified Mr. Scott said he wasn’t happy with the arrest. When asked what were the circumstances, he said Mr. Scott explained that an off-duty English officer had followed a truck that was swerving, so he called 911 to get a traffic car to attend.
Dixon said Mr. Scott told him the traffic officers did not want to arrest Mr. Evans. He asked why and Mr. Scott said Mr Evans didn’t appear to be drunk. The English officer, Graham Summers, demanded that Mr. Evans be arrested.
Dixon said he asked to speak to the arresting officer, who told him he wasn’t comfortable with the arrest, but was directed by the plain-clothes officer to arrest Mr. Evans.
Dixon said he was put back to Mr. Scott and told him, ‘You’ve got a right to be unhappy with this arrest.’ He said the arresting officer has to form the suspicion; someone cannot instruct him to make the arrest.
Asked if an arresting officer had to witness events, Dixon said not necessarily – but he has to form an opinion in his own mind.
Asked what he would do if called to such a scene, Dixon said he would feel the truck to see if it were hot and ask the person if he had been driving. He would check the driver’s eyes, his speech, whether he smelled of alcohol, whether he was steady on his feet. Then he would form his opinion.
‘It’s common sense an arresting officer has to form an opinion for himself,’ Dixon said. ‘The danger is that the instructing person could have malice.’
He said he was not told that the traffic officer had arrested Mr. Evans for failing to provide a specimen of breath.
Going back to the phone call, he said he advised Mr. Scott of a case involving a man arrested at the police station for driving under the influence. The arrest was by a constable on instruction from his supervisor. ‘Police procedure changed after this incident,’ he said.
He said he did tell Mr. Scott the name of the case and the facts as he understood them to be. ‘I said if I was in his place I would release Mr. Evans.’
Dixon said he did not instruct Mr. Scott to release Mr. Evans. Mr. Scott was the officer in charge at the station and it was his decision. ‘There was no reason for me to instruct him. He had the case there. That was my advice.’
He said Mr Scott told him he was going to release Mr. Evans, so Dixon told him if he was going to, then he should tell the English officer. Mr. Scott said Dixon knew the case better, so why didn’t he call. Dixon did.
He said he was asked on the phone if he wanted to speak to Mr. Evans, but he said no because this was not about Mr. Evans – this could be anybody.
Later, Then-Commissioner Buel Braggs gave him a copy of a report of the incident by Mr. Summers, who has already given evidence.
Until he read that report he did not know that a roadside breathalyser had been involved.
Dixon said that in his phone conversation with Mr. Summers, the English officer kept telling what he had observed, while Dixon kept telling Mr. Summers that the arresting officer had to observe these things.
He said he and Mr. Scott both had interviews with Mr. Braggs about the matter. He said Mr. Braggs ‘verbally told me he was satisfied.’
Dixon said his advice to Mr. Scott that night would have been different if he had known that Mr. Evans was arrested for failing to provide a specimen for testing. If he had known that the arresting officer had formed his own opinion, ‘I would have been very cross because they would have had to get on with their duty.’
Andrew Radcliffe QC, who is conducting the prosecution’s case, was scheduled to continue cross-examining Dixon today.