The family of a 20-year-old man seriously injured after being thrown from his bike in a collision during a police chase say they want to see a thorough, independent investigation into the incident.
Roger Johann Wood was flown to Miami for treatment for injuries to his spine and pelvis on Friday afternoon.
He was pursued for several miles by police investigating an attempted armed robbery at a George Town bar before his bike was involved in a collision with a police car in Prospect.
His father, Roger Wood, said he had spoken to his son, who denies any involvement in the robbery and said he fled the sirens because his bike had no license or insurance.
“He told me, ‘Daddy, I would never do anything so stupid.’” He has never been involved in anything like that,” said Mr. Wood.
He wants to see an examination of CCTV footage to determine exactly what caused the collision and an investigation of the officers involved.
“I am told they have a different department that will investigate. I hope it will be an independent investigation,” he said.
Mr. Wood, who flew out to Miami with his son Friday, said he had suffered multiple injuries and was having surgery on his back on Saturday.
“I’m trying to be strong, but I am worried for my son,” he added. He said his son was a quiet boy who loved motorbikes and had learned to ride almost before he could walk.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said in a statement Friday that it had responded to reports of an attempted robbery at the Smugglers Rum Bar in downtown George Town, just after 10:15 p.m. Thursday.
Officers, who arrived on the scene just after the robbery, saw a man speeding away on a dirt bike along Harbour Road and gave chase, the release stated.
Patrol cars, guided by the police helicopter, followed the bike, which was speeding, for a “lengthy period.”
“During this entire time, he failed to respond to police sirens and emergency lights signaling him to stop. In the vicinity of Lantern Point, there was a collision between the dirt bike and a police vehicle,” the release stated.
Elsa Castillo, the aunt of the injured man, said she was relieved her nephew had not been killed in the incident.
“For us, what is important first of all is to see the best care given to Johann to get him on his feet. We want to make sure he is OK and can get back to the health that he was in – the second thing we want to ensure is that something is done about this and it is not thrown under the mat.
“This was unnecessary. He is a young boy, he could very well have died.”
On Sunday, she told the Cayman Compass that doctors had done a three-hour surgery on her nephew’s spine. “It is not only Johann’s spine that was injured but his pelvic bone in different places as well,” she said, adding that her nephew was scheduled to undergo a second surgery on his pelvis on Sunday.
“He is in pain but is heavily sedated. He was able to chat with his mother Sunday morning, which is something good,” she said.
Review of CCTV footage
Police gave no specific details on the exact circumstances of the collision and it is understood that CCTV footage from the police helicopter, as well as traffic cameras, will be reviewed.
Accidents involving police vehicles are generally investigated internally by an officer of higher rank than the one involved in the accident, according to a police spokesperson.
They are investigated the same way as regular accidents with files potentially referred to the Department of Public Prosecutions. A range of other internal disciplinary measures are also contemplated where misconduct is proved, according to the spokesperson.
The attempted robbery at Smugglers Rum Bar remains under investigation. Two men with their faces covered and carrying what appeared to be handguns entered the bar around 10:15 p.m. Thursday and demanded valuables from patrons. The men then left without taking anything.
Anyone with information about this attempted robbery is asked to call George Town CID at 949-4222. Anonymous tips can be provided via the Miami-based call center of Crime Stoppers at 800-8477(TIPS).