‘Resign or be dismissed’, officer told
A former Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer was allowed to resign from the department rather than face criminal charges over his alleged activities while employed with the police service, according to a lawsuit filed over the ex-cop’s “purported dismissal”.
The suit, filed on behalf of former Police Constable Herbert Muschette, sets out a list of allegations made against Mr. Muschette prior to his 30 July, 2010 resignation from the police service.
The filing claims the ex-officer was hounded with various allegations of crime – ranging from assault to transporting drugs through Owen Roberts International Airport – until he finally was effectively “dismissed” from his post.
The ex-officer spoke with the Caymanian Compass last week and denied any wrongdoing. The police service has declined to comment on the case, which is now before the court.
In court records, Mr. Muschette seeks a declaration that his “dismissal” was unlawful and that he is entitled to nearly $90,000 in salary from the effective date of the “dismissal” on 10 August, 2010.
One of the many perplexing claims in the suit involves an allegation that senior RCIPS officials made, or attempted to make, prior agreements with then-Police Constable Muschette that he would escape criminal prosecution if he agreed to resign.
These issues were allegedly discussed during an 8 June, 2010 meeting with Mr. Muschette in RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Stephen Brougham’s office: “[Mr. Brougham] said to [Mr. Muschette] that he and Deputy Commissioner [Anthony] Ennis had come to a decision that [Mr. Muschette’s] time with the RCIPS had come to an end. That he, [Mr. Brougham], had evidence to show that [Mr. Muschette] was involved in drugs, soliciting sex from female motorists, and passing information to the criminal underworld.
“[Mr. Muschette] was then told he was being offered a deal that he could resign or face being dismissed and prosecuted and then imprisoned. If [Mr. Muschette] resigned, [Mr.] Brougham would not ‘come after him’, but if he refused, he was to be arrested and taken to court where he would be found guilty and imprisoned.”
The lawsuit states that Mr. Muschette protested this course of action. The constable, who had nearly 10 years on the police force at the time, said he had never taken drugs or sold drugs.
“[Mr. Muschette] was told by [Mr.] Brougham that [Mr. Brougham] had had police officers with 30 years’ service sent to prison and [Mr. Muschette] would just be another one. [Mr. Brougham] then said ‘if I were you, I would resign’.”
The Caymanian Compass contacted Mr. Brougham directly about the matter and received the following statement: “This matter is currently before the courts. As such it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.”
However, a witness statement given to the Grand Court in the case on 2 July, 2013 by Mr. Brougham indicated that he was aware of some criminal allegations against Mr. Muschette, including an assault case involving a fellow officer and a prisoner. Mr. Brougham said in the statement that he had asked for the officer to be removed from a post at the RCIPS Traffic Unit to a shift at the George Town police station where he could be more closely monitored.
In addition, Mr. Brougham stated: “… I was regularly briefed about allegations of matters of a criminal nature against police officers via the [RCIPS] Joint Intelligence Unit. [Mr. Muschette’s] name was regularly featured in these briefings as possibly being involved in criminal activity. The information received in those briefings came from multiple sources.”
Deputy Commissioner Brougham’s statement confirmed the 8 June, 2010 meeting with then-Constable Muschette, but merely refers to “notes” taken in a daybook following the meeting. Mr. Brougham also mentioned that he spoke to Deputy Commissioner Ennis prior to the meeting with Mr. Muschette and that the nature of that conversation included “whether, if [Mr. Muschette] left the service, those investigations [against him] would be discontinued”.
The Compass contacted Mr. Ennis, who declined comment Friday. He said he had provided a statement regarding the matter to the attorney general’s office.
The fact that Mr. Muschette was allowed to resign rather than face criminal charges was confirmed by Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert in 2011. Mrs. Dilbert, responding to an open records appeal filed by an unnamed applicant – now confirmed to be Mr. Muschette – chastised the police service for its handling of the matter.
In the open records appeal, one of the reasons the RCIPS gave for refusing to release all records to Mr. Muschette was that there were two investigations remaining open against the officer. Police said the investigations were suspended “and will resume should the applicant rejoin the service”, Mrs. Dilbert’s report on the appeal process noted.
The ex-officer summed up the RCIPS position this way: “In layman’s terms, ‘I dare you to return to the service’.”
Commissioner Dilbert didn’t follow the logic: “It is incomprehensible to me why the RCIPS would wish to keep files – some of which are already over five years old – open or pending, in the seemingly unlikely event that the applicant might rejoin the service at some unspecified time in the future.
“The notion that the progression of a potential criminal matter would have to wait until that officer rejoins the RCIPS is absurd, as this would mean that a police officer who commits an offence would have to do no more than resign from the RCIPS to gain immunity from prosecution.”