Constable claims angry senior officer threw book at him

Civil case continues after 16-month delay

A police chief inspector threw a paper logbook at a junior officer in an angry exchange, according to testimony from another officer, in a civil case Tuesday.

Constable Cardiff Robinson brought civil proceedings over the alleged incident with Inspector Frank Owens, which took place more than six years ago. The constable also claims Mr. Owens acted aggressively toward him, shouting and pointing his finger in his face, in a separate argument in February 2012.

The case opened in August 2016, but was adjourned for 16 months and resumed this week.

Michael “Bobby” Peart, another police constable who was present at the time of the logbook incident, told the court Tuesday he had seen Mr. Owens fling the book at Mr. Robinson. He said the book hit the officer in the face and then landed on his lap.

“I could see the anger in his [Mr. Owens’] face. His color changed. I was really frightened,” Mr. Peart claimed.

He said Mr. Robinson was stung by the incident and had tears in his eyes.

The exchange is alleged to have occurred in July 2011, when Mr. Owens was remonstrating with both officers about filling in the logbooks for use of police vehicles.

Mr. Peart confirmed the officers had complained to senior management about Mr. Owens’ handling of the incident.

He said he was surprised by the incident as it was out of character.

“Inspector Owens is a very nice individual. He is not the type of person who would come and shout. He looked out for his officers,” he said.

Mr. Robinson alleges that the chief inspector assaulted him twice as part of a pattern of bullying and abuse. He gave evidence in August 2016, when the first part of the case was heard, claiming Mr. Owens shouted at him aggressively on another occasion, jabbing him with his finger and showering him in spittle.

At that hearing, Mr. Owens denied throwing the book, saying he had no recollection of that incident at all. He acknowledged shouting at Mr. Robinson on the second occasion but said he was simply admonishing the officer in a “firm but fair” manner over a minor performance issue.

“If a senior police officer faces investigation every time he admonishes an officer for performance issues, that would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service,” he added.

Mr. Robinson said he had made a criminal complaint about the incident and claimed the Department of Public Prosecutions had ruled that an offense of assault had taken place but decided not to proceed with the matter, recommending that it be dealt with internally.

The officer said he had tried to follow internal complaint procedures, but the process left him feeling frustrated and victimized.

He said he had brought the civil case as a way of getting justice.

The hearing was adjourned Tuesday for counsel to make final written submissions.