A Royal Cayman Islands Police officer is in danger of losing sight in one eye after being attacked by a suspect late last week.
According to the RCIPS account of the incident, two police officers responding to a burglary report in George Town Thursday were violently attacked by a suspect they were attempting to arrest in connection with the crime, police said.
“All of us … are thinking of our colleagues and are a bit stunned by the viciousness of the assault against them,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said.
Police said residents at a Mangrove Avenue home reported a break in around noon Thursday, where the suspect fled after being spotted in the house by residents.
The suspect initially got away from the burglary scene, but officers found a man nearby matching the description of the burglar, according to a police press release.
The officers attempted to make the arrest on Dogwood Close, informing the man he was under arrest on suspicion of burglary.
“As one officer was applying handcuffs to the man, he suddenly became combative and violently resisted arrest, punching the arresting officer, knocking him to the ground, and kicking him repeatedly in the face, chest and head,” a police statement on the incident read. “The second officer intervened and was also kicked in her stomach repeatedly while trying to subdue him.”
The 21-year-old George Town man ran, but was caught by other police officers who were responding to the scene. The suspect was taken into custody Thursday.
He has since been charged with assault causing greivous bodily harm, assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal trespass. The suspect is due to appear in court Monday.
Both officers were taken to hospital. The male officer suffered a serious injury to his eye and was taken to Miami for emergency surgery. The female officer suffered a sprained wrist and bruises to her stomach.
The incident is one of a number of recent assaults on local police officers which have raised significant concern, Commissioner Byrne said.
“We accept that the nature of our job entails danger at times, but this should never be allowed to become a regular occurrence or to escalate to such a level,” he said. “I am alarmed by this incident and the ones that have preceded it.”
Mr. Byrne’s comments were in relation to a spate of incidents that occurred earlier this year and late last year involving serious assaults or retaliations against police officers.
There were at least two attacks against officers in May, including the apparent attempt to retaliate against an East End officer following a quadruple fatal car crash on May 2. The following night the police officer’s vehicle was vandalized – causing about $3,000 worth of damage – outside his family’s home, the officer apparently having been blamed by one of the car crash victims for causing the fatal wreck.
Mr. Byrne said there was no evidence the officer had even been chasing the car.
Also, during a drug raid on May 22 on Marina Drive in George Town, a man at the residence being searched attacked a customs officer and a police detective. The suspect was never arrested.
A report compiled by the RCIPS in February noted “several incidents” in which police officers have been attacked “simply trying to execute their duties.”
Three incidents occurred over one weekend in January in which police officers were attacked or suffered injury while making arrests. The assaults followed a December attack on the head of the RCIPS traffic unit at a roadblock. Two of the police inspector’s teeth were broken in the attack.