Police taser trial adjourned

Defense alleges conspiracy against officer

The trial of two police officers accused of using excessive force against a person in custody by discharging tasers at him has been adjourned until May 10.

The case against Austin Etienne and Cardiff Robinson, which began on Wednesday, had not concluded by 4 p.m. on Thursday. Prosecution witness Delroy Dyer had not yet been cross-examined by attorney Natasha Bodden on behalf of Etienne.

Crown counsel Candia James said she had one more witness to call after Mr. Dyer. Magistrate Philippa McFarlane consulted the court calendar and asked all counsel about their commitments. May 10 and 11 were the earliest dates that could be agreed.

Mr. Dyer said in his evidence that he was present when the defendants were advised that they were being charged with common assault as the result of an incident in East End in the early hours of May 3, 2014. He also said that he recorded statements from the suspect/victim on Oct. 22 and 27, 2014 – more than five months after the incident. Until then, there was no statement from the person who was the subject of this alleged use of excessive force, he agreed.

Attorney Dennis Brady, on behalf of Robinson, told the witness, “My instructions are that Mr. Robinson was targeted in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and being singled out in order to charge him with matters that will result in the loss of his job …. My instructions are that there is a conspiracy to do this.”

Mr. Dyer replied, “I have no knowledge of that. I have no idea.”

The court has already seen a video of the incident from the police helicopter; it shows the pursuit of the suspect from George Town to an interior road in East End and then at least four officers around the driver’s side of the suspect’s car as he is pulled out.

The court has also seen videos from cameras attached to the tasers deployed by the officers. One of the videos shows a machete on the floor by the driver’s seat.

Ms. James has already stated that one of the Crown’s admissions will be that the suspect/victim’s blood-alcohol level was .142. The legal limit in Cayman is .100. As a result of this incident, the man faced charges in Traffic Court.

During his testimony in this trial, he said he had found three sets of marks on his body after being “shocked” – they were on his right shoulder, right side above his waist, and right thigh.

The defendants have not yet had a chance to give their evidence. From questions put to witnesses by their attorneys, the case for the defense appears to be that use of the tasers was justified in the circumstances in which the officers found themselves.