The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will investigate the arrest of a former government minister last year involving a loud music complaint at a George Town restaurant.
Frank McField filed a formal complaint with Police Commissioner David Baines over the incident shortly after the case against the former lawmaker was dismissed from court upon a magistrate’s determination that there was “no case for Mr. McField to answer”.
“My case never needed to come before a court because it was obvious, even to the Pope’s dog, that the seizure of some of my possessions and my arrest and detainment was unlawful,” Mr. McField wrote in a letter to the Caymanian Compass earlier this month. “Much was said and made of the fact that several candidates in our recent elections had cases pending before the courts. I was one of those candidates who had to suffer the humiliation and disadvantage of campaigning while on bail.”
Mr. Baines said RCIPS Chief Inspector Richard Barrow, the head of the police Professional Standards Unit, would investigate the issue after he received a letter from Mr. McField on 10 June related to the arrest.
“Your letter raises issues of serious concern,” Mr. Baines wrote in reply to Mr. McField on 13 June.
Several of the claims made by Mr. McField in his letter to the Compass concern issues outside of what was said before the court in his resisting arrest and obstructing police case and cannot be reported due to legal concerns.
The charges against the former MLA stemmed from an attempt by police officers to seize equipment being used to play music after midnight on Sunday, 20 May, 2012, at the El Caboose Restaurant, of which Mr. McField is the proprietor.
The restaurant, in McField Square in George Town, was managed at the time by Silvana Lewis, who was charged with the same offences, plus two others. For the same reasons as in Mr. McField’s case, the magistrate dismissed the charges of obstructing police and resisting arrest.
Two other charges remain – permitting use of a premises for the purpose of music and dancing after hours and assault causing bodily harm. The named complainant in the assault matter is a police officer who was allegedly bitten. These two charges are still before the court and will be mentioned again on 3 July.
The “no case to answer” submission was made by Mr. McField after the Crown closed its case.
The evidence was that police first arrived at the restaurant at 12.40am as a private party was in progress to celebrate Honduran Mother’s Day. Mr. McField was not present at the time; Ms Lewis’ position was that they had instructed that the music be turned off, but gave no legal reason for doing so.
Mr. McField was present when officers returned to the premises around 1.30am, entered the restaurant and attempted to seize the music equipment. When Ms Lewis tried to block them from doing so, there was a struggle and they arrested her. Mr. McField became involved and was arrested for obstructing police.
Mr. McField argued that there was nothing in law that allowed the police to enter the premises for the purpose of taking the equipment without a warrant or without having made an arrest first. The charges of obstruction and resisting arrest sprang from resistance to that initial, incorrect police action, he said.
One of the officers had told the court he did not need any authority to enter the premises because the law was being breached and he was making inquiries. The Police Law states that a police officer may enter a premises for the purpose of executing a warrant, making an arrest, recapturing a person unlawfully at large, or for the purpose of saving a life or preventing serious damage to property. The law further states that a police officer may seize anything on the premises if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to seize it in order to prevent the evidence from being concealed, lost or destroyed.