Cops charged in Taser shooting

| 03/03/2015 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two serving police officers have found themselves on the wrong side of the law and have been charged with common assault in connection with the use of a Taser gun last year in East End. Cardiff Robinson (30) and Austin Etienne (44), who are Jamaican nationals, appeared in court last week accused of using excessive force during an arrest after an island-long high-speed car chase. Despite the charges, the officers, who were bailed to return to court in April, have not been placed on required leave but on desk duties.

Cayman news Service

Police officers charged (Photo courtesy Cayman27)

The use of the Taser by the officers, which will have been filmed as the stun guns are fitted with video cameras, is believed to have occurred just after midnight on 3 May last year after a car chase from George Town to East End.

At the time of the police report relating to the incident the RCIPS did not reveal that a Taser had been used, despite previous indications by police management that the public would be informed when the weapons were fired by its officers.

Police reported that the driver of a Toyota vehicle had refused to stop following a disturbance off Shedden Road. The RCIPS chopper and patrol cars were involved in chasing down the suspects at speeds reaching 90 miles per hour, the police had reported.

When the 38-year-old man was finally cornered in a dead-end off John McLean Drive in East End, he was taken into custody by officers from the Uniformed and Operational Support Groups, which is now understood to have included Robinson and Etienne. But the reason for the man’s pursuit and subsequent arrest was not disclosed.

At the time Air Operations Unit Commander Steve Fitzgerald bragged about the team effort and a successful police operation.

“This is another example of the strategic deployment of the police helicopter making incidents safer for our colleagues on the ground and also the public, whilst also ensuring offenders are ultimately arrested, regardless of the actions they may take to avoid detection,” he had stated. However, the two officers are now facing criminal charges.

One of the officers has had issues with police management in the past and had himself made allegations against a superior officer of assault. In April 2013 Robinson filed a law suit alleging he was the victim of bullying at the hands of Chief Inspector Frank Owens, who was at the time in charge of George Town police station. Owens has since been transferred to Cayman Brac. It is not clear if Robinson’s legal case is still progressing.

In an ironic twist, Robinson is also understood to be one of the officers alleging assault against the premier’s former political assistant, Kenneth Bryan. Robinson alleges Bryan swore at one of his police colleagues in a nightclub car park last October. Bryan was arrested and later charged in connection with the verbal altercation. But while Robinson remains in his job, Bryan has been sacked.

As a result of a considerable number of public sector workers facing court cases, the disparities over how are being treated is emerging.

The CEO of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, Joel Walton, was charged with assault and other offences last Thursday in connection with a domestic incident but on Tuesday morning there was still no news about whether or not he would be placed on leave. Garfield Wong, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer for Enforcement, who is charged with drinking and driving last year and leaving the scene of an accident, has remained in post. However, Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans remains on required leave in connection with what is now understood to be a non-criminal investigation. Inspector Lauriston Burton, who went through airport security with a handgun, also remains on duty, while five police constables and one sergeant have been suspended from their jobs as a result of various charges.

One officer has been paid not to work for five and a half years due to a criminal case.

Meanwhile, the police commissioner last year ordered the return of a serving RCIPS officer from Jamaica who was on required leave, even though he was charged with murder. Tyrone Findlay, who had been suspended, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison in January. He was then sacked from the RCIPS.

Across the civil service, people in lowly positions are being suspended from their jobs for petty offences, such as consumption of ganja, while others, it appears, remain on the job as inconsistencies surround the way various public sector workers are treated.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Police

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