Careers in balance for cops charged with assault

| 09/09/2016 | 0 Comments
Cayman news Service

Police officers charged (Photo courtesy Cayman27)

(CNS): Two police officers charged with assault, as the crown claims they used excessive force when they tasered a suspect twice during an arrest, must wait more than six weeks for the magistrate’s verdict as their RCIPS careers hang in the balance. Cardiff Robinson (31) and Austin Etienne (45) were charged last year in connection with the incident in which Lawson Scott was arrested in East End following a police pursuit across Grand Cayman in May 2014. Both officers denied using unnecessary force and claimed that they were in fear of Scott because he had a machete in the car and was resisting arrest.

After the charges were laid the two officers were not suspended but they have remained on desk duty. If they are found guilty, they will be dismissed from the service.

During the trial the court heard that Robinson and Etienne were involved in the chase with Lawson that began in George Town after police were called to a domestic incident. The suspect took off at high speed and the police officers chased Lawson all the way to East End, with the support of the RCIPS helicopter. He was eventually cornered in Mica Street, a dead-end road off John McLean Drive, where the arrest took place.

Video footage from the Taser-cams and the police helicopter shows how the officers approached the car with the stun guns drawn and tasered Lawson immediately as they opened the door of the car.

In a chaotic scene, where four police officers were yelling and shouting at the suspect, one officer is clearly heard repeatedly shouting “burn him again”.

As Lawson is dragged from the car writhing from the 50,000 volts going through his body, with the Taser burr still attached and with four body-armoured officers surrounding and standing on the man, he is tasered again.

Etienne and Robinson said they were in fear for their lives as Lawson had a machete in the car, and that as he was dragged from the car and the officers tried to handcuff him, they could not get to one of his arms because it was trapped under his body. They said he was resisting arrest.

The crown suggested that it was impossible for the suspect at that point to comply with the police instructions and that tasering him a second time was clearly unnecessary.

Senior officers from the RCIPS who train the police in Taser use and gave evidence during the trial had said the footage shows that the officers in this case did not follow protocol. They pointed out that the Taser should not be used to make suspects comply with specific police instructions, and that the police at this scene should have tried to defuse and de-escalate the situation.

Accused by the crown of using the Taser to punish the suspect because of the erratic car chase, in which he had tried to run police officers off the road, both Etienne and Robinson denied the allegation and insisted that they tasered the suspect because they were in fear throughout the incident.

The case has been heard in Summary Court by Magistrate Philippa McFarlane. Following the submissions by the crown and defence attorneys Dennis Brady and Natasha Bodden, McFarlane said she needed time to consider the case and would deliver her verdict on 26 October.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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