Police traffic chief assaulted at roadblock

The head of the Royal Cayman Islands Police traffic unit, Inspector Ian Yearwood, suffered two broken teeth after being assaulted at a police traffic checkpoint over the weekend, according to a police statement.

Inspector Ian Yearwood
Inspector Ian Yearwood

The RCIPS reported that officers had set up the roadblock on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway near the old Hyatt hotel property and were performing traffic checks early Saturday.

At about 1 a.m., during a vehicle stop, police said the passenger in the vehicle “began using abusive language toward the officer, and was warned, but continued.

“The man then refused to comply with officer commands to step out of the vehicle,” according to the police statement. “The man was then arrested for disorderly conduct, during which he violently resisted arrest and punched the officer in the face; pepper spray was then deployed [used by police].”

The suspect, Mark Blake, 27, appeared in court Monday. He was charged with assault and assault causing actual bodily harm.

Magistrate Valdis Foldats agreed to release Blake on a $950 recognizance bond, to reappear in court on Dec. 20.

According to Crown counsel Greg Walcolm, who spoke in court Monday, Inspector Yearwood had “two broken teeth” as a result of the incident.

The vehicle passenger, Blake, attempted to resist arrest by “punching and kicking,” according to Mr. Walcolm. The Crown did not object to bail for Blake.

During his court appearance, Blake was identified as a work permit holder in the construction industry. His attorney, Anthony Akiwumi, said relatives posted the $950 surety on Blake’s behalf.

The RCIPS started its annual holiday traffic crackdown last Wednesday. The operation, a joint effort between the traffic unit and the volunteer special constabulary, runs through the first week in January and focuses on catching speeders, drunk drivers and other traffic scofflaws.

The Saturday morning roadblock was part of that operation.

Mr. Yearwood spoke about the operation last week: “We are employing some different tactics in order to increase the effectiveness of our traffic stops. There is a very good chance that those who think they can just avoid them somehow will have a hard time doing so. The better option is to just have a designated driver and not drink and drive.”

 

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