The reputation of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is taking a beating following the advent of a video which has gone viral on social media, showing what appears to be a police officer, brandishing a weapon and literally kicking a man while he is down.
And Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith have been dragged into the heart of the potential scandal, with renowned attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim, QC, demanding they both resign unless they deal swiftly with the perpetrators.
Pilgrim, who is representing the man seen in the video, as well as a second alleged victim of police abuse, Monday served notice that legal action will be taken against all the officers within 48 hours – three altogether – involved in the “blatant abuse of power”.
“He [the officer seen kicking the man], but not he alone, all of those that are responsible for this type of behaviour will have to come to a court and say, ‘not guilty’, they didn’t do it, and prove their case,” Pilgrim said.
The man seen being kicked in the video is 26-year-old Dario Rico Stanton of Hart’s Gap, Christ Church, while the other is 22-year-old Romario Mitchell Quintyne of 122 Cordia Drive, Warners Park, Christ Church.
The two emerged from the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court Monday to show journalists injuries they allegedly sustained, such as heavy bruises to the face, back, chest, lips, feet and armpit, as well as a bloodshot, black eye and swollen cheeks.
Stanton, a mechanic, pleaded not guilty to assaulting Police Constable Justin Phillips, occasioning him actual body harm, as well as obstructing that officer and Police Constable Bradley Cutting in the execution of their duties, and assaulting his colleague, Police Constable Akeel Grant with intent to prevent the officer from lawfully apprehending him.
Quintyne, meanwhile, denied that he failed to obey a lawful order to keep moving given by Cutting, resisting the officer in the execution of his duties and using abusive language.
The attack came after the RBPF Task Force was called in Sunday night to restore order at the last in the series of Waiki events at Pirate’s Cove, The City.
The popular event has been attracting large crowds since February. However, things got out of control as patrons reportedly broke down the fence in a mad scramble to get into the event.
As result, several people were detained, including Stanton and Quintyne, both of whom, Pilgrim claimed, had gone to pick up their girlfriends and arrived there after the disturbance had started.
“The camera shows blatant abuse of police power. I don’t think there is any other way to describe it,” Pilgrim told reporters.
The Force issued a statement Monday seemingly casting doubt that the man seen abusing Stanton was a police officer.
It said an internal investigation had been ordered into the social media posting “showing an individual dressed in a uniform similar to one worn by members of the Royal Barbados Police Force” kicking the man.
“These investigations will . . . determine if the individual in the posting is a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force,” the statement said.
However, Pilgrim all but ridiculed the police statement, telling journalists he knew some of the officers in the video, therefore, the RBPF needed little time to identify the offender.
Unless this is done, he said, both Brathwaite and Griffith should stand down.
“With all due respect to the Commissioner of Police it cannot take them more than half an hour to find out if that person is a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force because he is certainly acting in concert with other people I can identify as members of the Royal Barbados Police Force. So even if he is not a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force they need to find out why he is assisting members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, and either way those that are assisting him and whoever he is need to be charged . . . . So they need to show that they are sinking their teeth into this thing with a level of urgency, failing which one of them would have to go home – the Commissioner of Police or the Attorney General.
“There must be a zero tolerance attitude to that type of behaviour and if the Commissioner has seen the video and acknowledges that a police officer is carrying on in that fashion he should say, ‘I am going to investigate this immediately, suspend all parties who are there and are complicit in it’, and if he does not do that he should resign forthwith. He and the Attorney General, both of them should resign if they are allowing this to happen and not treat it with zero tolerance,” Pilgrim said.
Social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong had earlier advised the two men to sue the officers.
Like Pilgrim, Comissiong complained that police abuse was much too prevalent here and the Force ought not be allowed to get away with it.
“We the Barbadian society need to respond by not permitting any impunity. Citizens who are treated unjustly and wrongfully by police officers need to seek counsel from attorneys-at-law and take legal action. That is the only way a strong message will be sent,” he said.
The attorney also called for reform of the Force to make it more accountable to the public, charging that the current system established to probe complaints against officers was not reliable.
“I am not convinced that the Office [of Professional Responsibility] is capable of properly investigating and processing such complaints and bring wrongdoers to justice. I think it is very difficult for the police to investigate themselves and police to charge and discipline other police officers.”
Stanton was released on $8,000 bail while Quintyne secured his $2,000 bail with one surety.
Both men have been warned to stay away from the complainants and to keep the peace.
They are due to return to court on September 14.