Three Royal Cayman Islands Police officers have been suspended from duties following separate convictions for either common assault or assault causing actual bodily harm stemming from incidents during the course of their jobs.
The three officers were found guilty in relation to two different incidents. Court verdicts of guilty against them came within the past two weeks.
The officers, Austin Etienne, Cardiff Robinson and Michael Peart, will be suspended with pay pending internal hearings on their cases that will determine any disciplinary action, according to police officials.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said the officers have been suspended from “any and all police duties,” meaning they won’t be working “desk duty” in the department while their matters remain outstanding.
“Police officers have important duties to carry out while enforcing the law and ensuring public safety,” Mr. Byrne said. “They must have the right to use reasonable force while doing so, without threat of prosecution. But this right never extends to the excessive use of force, which violates basic rights, erodes public confidence, and undermines the good work that the overwhelming majority of RCIPS officers often put themselves in harm’s way to do.”
Officers Etienne and Robinson were found guilty of common assault on Nov. 29 following a trial in which they said they had used their Tasers on a suspect because they feared for their safety and the safety of fellow officers.
According to court testimony, Summary Court Magistrate Philippa McFarlane said the issue was whether the degree of force used was unreasonable. She had to decide whether the officers honestly believed that the suspect involved in the incident posed a significant risk of harm to them or their fellow officers.
The magistrate noted that the incident the officers were responding to was a domestic assault, not a “Class A” criminal offense such as an armed robbery. She stated that she did not believe either officer “honestly believed” they were in fear for his life when they deployed the Taser stun weapons on the suspect after a lengthy chase.
Police Constable Michael Peart was found guilty Dec. 5 of assault causing actual bodily harm to a man in police custody, as well as common assault against that man.
The charges arose from a traffic stop in November 2014 when a driver, who admitted he had resisted arrest, threw a driver’s license at Officer Peart and “used rude language,” according to the court.
The man was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car. According to Officer Peart, he was “kicking and acting out” when Peart struck him with his elbow. The suspect claimed he had been struck with a baton, a claim Peart denied. Two doctors reviewed the man’s injuries; one stated that they appeared to be the result of “blunt force trauma” and the other stated that the trauma was caused by “a circular object.”