Five of the six Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers that had some involvement in the arrest of a 60-year-old woman in connection with a rock-throwing investigation in Bodden Town are still on the job, according to records provided by the police service under Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law.
The officers, who were all police constables at the time, were accused in a lawsuit of arresting the woman when they could not have “reasonably suspected that it was [the woman] who had committed the offence of rock throwing either at the McLaughlin residence or at the police”.
Bodden Town resident Ben McLaughlin reported numerous incidents where large rocks were thrown at his home on Kipling Street or at members of his family between 2007 and 2008. Police officers who responded to those reports also said they had rocks tossed at them.
Some of the rocks that ended up on the roof of the McLaughlin home weighed upwards of 25 to 30 pounds. The woman who was arrested twice in connection with the police investigation weighed less than 120 pounds and was 5 feet tall.
“The officers’ hand-cuffing and man-handling [the woman] was oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional,” according to the lawsuit filed on 21 February, 2012, in the Cayman Islands Grand Court.
The claims made in the lawsuit have not been proved in any court of law; therefore, the Caymanian Compass will not reveal the names of the officers allegedly involved in the matter. They are accused of numerous breaches of legal and professional procedures, as well as potential criminal acts and violations of basic civil rights against the lawsuit’s plaintiff; the woman who was arrested in connection with the rock throwing.
The Compass will also not reveal the name of the woman who filed the suit, even though publicly available court documents identify her.
An RCIPS spokesperson declined to comment about whether disciplinary investigations or action had been taken against any of the officers named in the lawsuit, citing the fact that the matter was before the court. The rock throwing incidents and most of the subsequent investigations occurred prior to RCIPS Commissioner David Baines assuming his role atop the department in June 2009.
The woman who was arrested in connection with the rock throwing was eventually released in the matter with charges dismissed in 2009. One of the six officers named in the lawsuit left the RCIPS in 2008. Among the allegations made against the police service and specific officers involved in the two arrests of the 60-year-old woman over the rock throwing were:
During a May 16, 2008 arrest, RCIPS officers were accused of forcing their way onto the woman’s premises, pushing her physically and arresting her on suspicion of assault causing actual bodily harm “whereupon they pull off the plaintiff’s towel leaving her naked … and ordered her to dress in a bath robe.”
The lawsuit also accused two of the officers involved in the 16 May, 2008 arrest of “fabricating” a conversations with the woman they arrested. “The conversation alleged centred around [the woman’s] response when asked by [an officer] ‘why she threw the rocks’; [the woman] allegedly replying that it was because ‘the woman next door was evil’ and ‘so what if I did?’ This alleged conversation never took place,” the lawsuit states.
Following another arrest on 30 June, 2008, the woman was kept in detention for 16 hours and eventually driven home by officers who, when they arrived, donned gloves and searched the suspect’s home.
One of the officers involved in the ongoing rock tossing investigation was accused in the lawsuit of committing a criminal trespass at the plaintiff’s residence on 22 June, 2008. The officer, according to the lawsuit, “acting on the assumption that he may find some incriminating evidence in the plaintiff’s residence” requested a warrant without providing a justice of the peace with “sufficient evidence” of what he expected to find, the court records state.
The idea of a “missile throwing device” developed in the course of the investigation and the lawsuit claimed police asked the woman if she possessed such a device. No evidence backing up the claim of a “catapult” used to launch large rocks was ever recovered by police. A Crown counsel who reviewed the police case in July 2008 formally asked the police to essentially re-submit their case with additional supporting statements, maps and photographs. Another search warrant was obtained on 1 July, 2008, to look for the alleged “catapult device”, an application that the plaintiff’s lawyer called “unlawful”.