Categorized | National News

Man Dies in Police Custody

The allegations of police brutality is a controversial issue that has gained international attention and has plagued the Royal Bahamas Police Force for years now, in fact this issue is once again brought to the spotlight following the death of man who died while in police custody over the weekend.

The information surrounding the death of the male remained stretchy up to press time but according to a police report the man died on Saturday and Her Majesty’s Coroner, Mrs. Jeanine Weech-Gomez, is currently investigating the matter.

The identity of the male is being withheld until an identification of the body is done by a family member.

According to a reliable source, the Commissioner of Police is expected to make a public statement on the death of the male today.

Back in 2013, Human rights organisation Amnesty International released a report that addressed the issue of police brutality and highlighted the urgent need for greater accountability for police abuse in The Bahamas.

In the same year that the report was released, two men, 20-year-old Aaron Rolle and 35-year-old Jamie Smith died while in police custody.

Rolle died on February 9 at the Southern Police Station, meanwhile Smith died on February 8 at the Central Detective Unit (CDU).

In both cases, a Coroner’s Inquest into death of the men took place.

In the inquest into Rolle’s death, Constables 2648 Carl Smith and 2126 Akiel Smith were put on administrative leave in connection to the matter.

During the inquest, the pair admitted that they used a wooden baton to subdue Rolle as he allegedly tried to escape police custody.

At the end of the Inquest, a four woman, one man jury returned a verdict of “unlawful killing” in Rolle’s death.

At last report, the family had applied to the office of the Attorney General to levy formal charges against the officers for prosecution.

On the other hand, in the inquest into Smith’s death, a pathologist determined that his cause of death was asphyxia – a lack of oxygen.

Inspector Ezra Maycock, Sergeant Keno Smith, Corporal Brian Roache and Corporal Sterlin Knowles were all put on administrative leave in relation to Smith’s death.

Corporal Roach had admitted to using a sleep hold to restrain Smith in an attempted escape.

However, Smith’s death at the hands of police during that struggle was determined as a lawful killing by a Coroner’s Court jury.

Attorney Christina Galanos, who represented the families of both victims had repeatedly called for police officers to know that they are not above the law and must respect the rights of citizens in custody.

In a separate matter, an example was made of former police officer Corporal Donavon Gardiner who was found guilty of manslaughter for the death of Desmond Key who was brutally beaten while in police custody at the Grove Police Station.

In 2007, Gardiner had beaten Key with a baseball bat and Key died several months later.

Gardiner was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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