Injured biker eliminated from robbery inquiry

Roger Johann Wood seriously hurt in police chase

The bike riden by Roger Johann Wood at the scene of the collision.

A 20-year-old motorcycle rider, seriously injured in a collision with a police car, is no longer a suspect in the robbery that led to the high-speed chase, according to police.

Police confirmed Monday that the rider, Roger Johann Wood, had been eliminated from inquiries into the attempted robbery at Smugglers Rum Bar on Thursday night.

He was pursued for 11 miles across Grand Cayman by patrol cars, guided by the police helicopter, after being spotted speeding on an unlicensed dirt-bike, close to the scene of the robbery.

The chase came to an end near the Lantern Point condo complex when Mr. Wood was thrown from his bike after a collision with a police car. He had surgery on a broken back in Miami on Saturday. His father Roger Wood said Monday he was hopeful that his son would walk again.

A statement from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service on Monday said, “After reviewing all information available, detectives have concluded that the man involved in a high-speed chase with officers last Thursday night, April 7, was not involved in the attempted robbery at the Smugglers Rum Bar.”

Mr. Wood said his son had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I knew he was not involved in the robbery. I know Roger well, I knew he wouldn’t be involved in anything like that. I don’t excuse him for running from the police but it is wrong what they did. We are definitely pursuing this,” said Mr. Wood, who has called for an independent investigation into the chase.

He said his son, who broke his back, hip and pelvis in the accident, was in a lot of pain, but had come through a successful operation on Saturday. He is scheduled for further surgery this week.

“We are talking about months of recovery and we don’t know how it is going to turn out,” he said. “The doctors told me people have come in, in a much worse condition than him and have walked out. Hopefully, it goes well and that’s what happens.”

Police pursuit policy

The police pursuit policy requires officers to balance the gravity of a suspected offense with the threat to public safety when engaging in chases on Cayman’s roads, raising the possibility that the pursuit of Mr. Wood may have been called off sooner, had he not been speeding in the vicinity of a recent armed robbery incident.

A police spokeswoman said, “When pursuing individuals suspected of a crime, the decision is made to pursue balancing the safety of the public, the pursued, and the police officer, with the gravity of the offense believed to have been committed and the danger the driving of the pursued person also presents to the public.”

She added, “What cannot happen is that officers are disallowed from pursuing suspected criminals simply because they happen to be going fast and trying to elude capture.”

The police chase policy has come under scrutiny in the past, most notably when the family of Bruce Lee Ebanks, who was killed during a high-speed police chase in February, 2008, successfully sued the Government over the death. Justice Alexander Henderson ruled that police had not followed proper procedures during that pursuit because, in his view, it had not been monitored by a supervisor, as required by the police pursuit policy.

Judge Henderson said the “negligent failure to end the pursuit was one factor which contributed to the accident.” The judge indicated that a police supervisor, not directly involved in the pursuit, is required to make a continuous, real-time assessment of whether the chase should continue.

He said the chase supervisor was required to make that assessment based on the speed of the vehicles, the traffic conditions and the nature of the suspected offence and determine “moment by moment, whether the risk is justified by the gravity of the suspected wrongdoing.”

Any doubt, he ruled, should be decided in favor of public safety.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.



  1. L. Bell: if, based in a newspaper report, you are able to come to that conclusion, the Governor needs to employ you to replace the police chief and the judiciary.
    Yes, there are questions that need to be asked and there should be a full, impartial and independent investigation. While the Cayman Islands does not have an independent organisation able to investigate police activities, then there will be no relief from people having a go at the police with no evidence. The complaints commissioner might need to bring in so expertise from outside to carry out such an investigation.
    In terms of this young man’s father, please remember, it was YOUR son who raced off from the police for 11 miles failing to stop. While we NOW know that he was not involved in a robbery, this was not known AT THE TIME.
    Perhaps YOU need to look in the mirror and look into the eyes of the parent who might just have some responsibility for th4 behaviour of THEIR child and make sure that your ‘pursuit of justice’ recognises the behaviour of YOUR son and isn’t just motivated by the chance of compensation.

  2. John you are absolutely right. The police were right to pursue him and he could have stopped at any time.

    Sorry he was injured but this young man deserves jail time not compensation.

    But I had to chuckle at his father’s comments:

    “He told me, ‘Daddy, I would never do anything so stupid.’” He has never been involved in anything like that,” said Mr. Wood.

    As if leading the police on a high speed chase for 11 miles on an uninsured, unlicensed motor bike was a sign of great intelligence.

  3. Yes, L Bell, you missed the point that criminals use non street legal dirt bikes because they can then use them as getaway vehicles displaying no obvious identification. As yet, the RCIPS have not been issued with the magic vehicle stopping machine that can be pointed at a car or a motorbike and immediately and remotely turn off its engine.
    Yes, this incident does need to be investigated and assessed in line with the pursuit policy but perhaps your ire would be better directed at those who seek to break the law and those who allow these damned machines onto our islands.

  4. l. Bell, “Believe it or not” The police gets a call about a crime that is taking place or has taken place. They arrive, and what the first thing they have to do? Ask who saw something. Most times the police don’t know half of the story, how do you think they find out what is going on? it comes from the public eye.
    Criminals are getting away because of many things, and the police allowing that to happen is not one of them . Things are going to get worse before it gets any better, and if we the public do not keep our eyes on, and ears to the ground, these crimes will continue and we just become more fearful of taking a morning walk. It must not happen, period.