A police officer who was found guilty earlier this year of assaulting a suspect in custody is now being sued over the incident.
Glen Andrew Bush is seeking damages for assault and false imprisonment against senior constable Michael “Bobby” Peart.
The civil lawsuit stems from an incident in November 2014 when Mr. Peart conducted a traffic stop on Mr. Bush on Eastern Avenue in George Town.
According to Mr. Bush, the officer forcefully threw him on the bonnet of his car and further assaulted him with a baton in the back seat of the vehicle while he was handcuffed. Mr. Bush also claims that Mr. Peart “violently and unlawfully” grabbed him by his neck and squeezed it at the police station.
Mr. Peart was charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, went on trial last November, and was found guilty on Dec. 5. Mr. Bush was also charged with disorderly conduct, assault, and resisting arrest.
Before he was sentenced in March, Mr. Peart’s attorney, Kathleen Ryan, argued that the conviction against her client should not be recorded.
According to Ms. Ryan, Mr. Peart had been assisting another officer by restraining the prisoner.
“His intention was to keep the situation from escalating,” she said at the mitigation hearing. At the station, his purpose in acting as he did was to reduce the prisoner’s aggression.
Ms. Ryan said Mr. Peart had an exemplary record over his 16 years with the police service; he had twice received a commissioner’s commendation; he had never had any disciplinary actions against him. She asked the court to balance that one incident against his career as a whole.
Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez agreed that the conviction against Mr. Peart should not be recorded, citing a U.K. Court of Appeal case in which the judge acknowledged the extremely difficult task police have in discharging their duties. They have a difficult job, especially when dealing with disorderly or difficult people. People being detained can become violent as a result of being angry or in an attempt to secure their release. But the force police use must be proportionate to the situation.
In Mr. Peart’s case, the magistrate commented, the man being arrested “was no doubt a nuisance, but not a threat.” Assistance was required to get the man handcuffed and into the police car, but force was not reasonable when it involved the use of Mr. Peart’s baton and later holding the man by his throat.
She referred to the social inquiry report, which contained information that was not known to her before and helped her understand Mr. Peart’s reactions that night. Without indicating what that information was, she said she considered the period around November 2014 to have been extraordinary times for him. When that information was considered in light of the inflammatory words from the complainant, it amounted to substantial mitigation, she said.
The magistrate pointed out that the law gives her the discretion to not record a conviction when the character, antecedents, age or health of the defendant, or extenuating circumstances, make it inexpedient to inflict any punishment.
She emphasized that she was not turning a blind eye to the officer’s use of force, but said her decision was based heavily on the extenuating circumstances.
Mr. Peart was unconditionally discharged, and has resumed active duty with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.