The guilty verdict and three-year sentence of police officer Elvis Ebanks for bribery sends a clear message that corrupt cops are not above the law, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has said.
Ebanks was jailed on Thursday for soliciting a bribe from a Filipino national in return for not arresting him for stealing a mobile phone.
The court heard that Ebanks had been the “prime mover,” threatening the man with 10 years in jail and failing to inform him that the phone’s owner was not pressing charges over the alleged theft.
The victim gave Ebanks CI$115 and US$31 at the scene and arranged to meet him at a later date to give him an additional $500.
The man reported the incident to police who set up an investigation, providing the Filipino janitor with the cash to make the payoff, which went ahead as arranged at Countryside Shopping Village. Police officers followed Ebanks from the scene, stopping his vehicle on the East-West Arterial Bypass and arresting him. He was charged with two counts of bribery and two counts of breach of trust under the Anti-Corruption Law and sentenced, after trial, to three-years in prison.
In a statement on Friday, police said the successful prosecution of the corrupt cop shows that police officers were not above the law.
“I would like to reiterate that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will not tolerate corruption among its ranks; we will pursue any allegation of corruption,” said Chief Inspector Raymond Christian.
“Unfortunately, this type of dishonest behavior smears the reputation of many of the RCIPS officers who are honest, trustworthy, hardworking and committed. The RCIPS will continue to strive to maintain the highest standards and professionalism and pride in our service to the public,” police said in a statement following the conviction of Ebanks in May.
In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Charles Quin said police officers were given considerable powers and privileges to perform their duties. He said he agreed with the view, cited in a previous case, that police officers who dishonestly abuse their position for profit should face a severe jail sentence.
“The defendant’s conduct and behavior in threatening to arrest and prosecute the victim for a theft for which the owner did not want to press charges was egregious,” he said.
“The vulnerable victim was demonstrably terrified and clearly thought he could go to prison in a foreign land for a long time.
“The defendant’s conduct not only undermines the good name and reputation of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, it actually damages the good name of the Cayman Islands.”