Police absent, charges dismissed

Chief Magistrate Margaret
Ramsay-Hale dismissed charges of common assault, disorderly conduct and
resisting arrest against Moises Benton Bush in Summary Court on 12 August,
after the complaining officer in the incident did not attend court on two
occasions.

Bush’s charges stemmed from an
incident that took place on 28 July, 2009 in the vicinity of Leslor Manor,
along West Bay Road, after he was stopped by the police. 

The defendant is alleged to have
conducted himself in a noisy and disorderly manner and used indecent language
to Police Constable Robert McLaughlin, who proceeded to arrest the defendant.
It is alleged that Bush slapped the officer’s hand away as he was trying to
handcuff him, and ultimately pepper spray was used on Bush.

Ms Ramsay-Hale recalled another
appearance in which the arresting officer was absent and the charges against
Bush were dismissed. She added that it was in the interest of justice that
officers attend court.

According to Police Sergeant Angela
Madourie, “The official stance taken by the service is that officers should
inform the Legal Department when they are not going to be in attendance as
witnesses. The recourse of action when this is not done is that the officer
will be fined or he/she may lose their job.” 

However, every such incident has to
go to the Professional Standards Unit to be investigated. The policy of the
current commissioner is that officers are fined to begin with and if absences
from court occur more than once, they are liable to be charged and/or lose
their jobs.

It is up to the sitting magistrate
whether to pursue instances of absence on the part of officers who are to
testify in proceedings.

RCIPS Press Officer Janet Dougall
was unable to say on Thursday whether the officer in the case was summoned to
come to court for 12 August, adding, “We can confirm that we have launched an
investigation into this matter and as such it would be inappropriate to make any
further comment regarding the circumstances at this time.” 

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