Gov't sued over police 'wounding' incident

A lawsuit filed against the Cayman Islands government earlier this month seeks damages over a June 2009 incident in which a Royal Cayman Islands Police officer was alleged to have injured a man outside a Red Bay gas station.  

The lawsuit filed by Adolphus Myrie states that as a result of the incident, he suffered concussion and loss of consciousness, a wrist fracture, headache, back pain, light-headedness and a “growth in his left eye.”  

His lawsuit, filed April 9 with the Grand Court, seeks unspecified damages, exemplary damages and attorney’s costs. 

The writ, filed by Mr. Myrie against the attorney general and the former officer, Rabe Welcome, alleges that Mr. Welcome “assaulted [Mr. Myrie] by picking him up and throwing him to the ground, slamming [Mr. Myrie’s] head into the ground and bringing his weight to bear on [Mr. Myrie’s] head and body.”  

According to court testimony from the criminal trial, Mr. Welcome said he did not know how Mr. Myrie received his injuries, but presumed his head contacted the concrete. He said he was trying to grab Mr. Myrie’s wrists, but Mr. Myrie was fighting. Questioned by Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson, he said he did not kick Mr. Myrie; he was simply trying to free his foot.  

The incident started after Mr. Welcome, who was off duty, went to On the Run for some food, jurors in 2012 heard. Mr. Welcome said he had gone earlier to Country and Western Bar, where he played pool and had three drinks of Hennessy cognac and three Red Bulls. Apparently, while he was inside waiting for his order, Mr. Myrie and Shani Gordon arrived. Ms. Gordon went inside to make a purchase and Mr. Welcome said something to her, the court heard.  

When Ms. Gordon went back to Mr. Myrie’s car, he asked her to go back and buy a lighter. She said she felt uncomfortable going back in because of what had been said to her. Mr. Myrie then went in and spoke to Mr. Welcome about the disrespect he had allegedly given. He admitted using profanities, but denied making threats. They then went outside.  

Mr. Myrie said he and Ms. Gordon got into their car, but two men stood behind it to block him from leaving. Mr. Welcome came to his window and said he needed to search the car, the court heard. Mr. Myrie said he did not know the men were police and he asked Mr. Welcome for his badge. Mr. Welcome had his hands on the car and when Mr. Myrie opened the door, he said, Mr. Welcome stumbled backward.  

Mr. Myrie admitted taking a machete from the back of the car and waving it, telling the three men to back off. He said at that point that Mr. Welcome “hugged me up and pulled me to the back of the station.” It was there the wounding incident was alleged to have occurred.  

A jury found Mr. Welcome guilty of wounding in October 2012, but that conviction was overturned on appeal in November 2013.  

The Court of Appeal overturned the guilty verdict on a single point related to the trial judge’s instructions to the jury concerning the “mental element” necessary in determining whether force used by a police officer was reasonable or unreasonable. 

Mr. Welcome had been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, but that sentence was held pending the outcome of the appeal. The former officer did not end up serving that sentence.