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February 5, 2010
Officers ordered to pay $1,500 each for beating youth

The three police officers who had been charged with assault had their worst fears realized on Tuesday.{{more}}

Corporal Kasankie Quow and Constables Osrick James and Hadley Ballantyne were each found guilty on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, for assaulting Jemark Jackson on November 18, 2008, at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

“I have no other recourse than to fine each of the defendants guilty of assaulting Jemark Jackson.” These were the words of Senior Magistrate Donald Browne as he ruled on the fate of the three officers with over 30 years of combined experience among them.

Browne, in his ruling, said that the officers were “not deserving of a prison sentence…this magistrate would not even dream of sending you to jail, but I have to fine them.” As a result, the three were ordered to pay $1,500 each in one month or spend six months in prison.

Upon hearing that the men would not be sent to prison, one man seated inside the courtroom shouted: “Praise the Lord.”

On the day of the incident, Jackson was beaten with a hose by Quow and slammed on the floor three times by James and Ballantyne while in the general office at CID. Jackson was later taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and was in a coma for seven days.

In a huge show of solidarity, nearly all branches of the local constabulary, including officers from the Coast Guard, Criminal Investigations Department, Traffic Department, Major Crimes Unit, Special Branch, as well as armed officers from the Special Services Unit and Rapid Response Unit, packed the courtroom, leaving few seats for civilians. Some even stood for the entire day, awaiting the decision on the fate of their fellow officers.

When the court reconvened at 2:30 pm for the Magistrate’s ruling, the numbing silence that engulfed the room was palpable. After Browne found the men guilty, one officer from the CID had to be consoled by another officer as he wept openly outside the courthouse in view of passersby.

With dejected looks on their faces, Ballantyne, James and Quow, all dressed in black trousers and long sleeved white shirts, emerged from the courtroom. Under the clutches of other officers, they walked silently back to headquarters.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams and attorney for the officers Arthur Williams addressed the court before Magistrate Browne gave his summation and ruling.

The DPP noted that it was one of the most interesting and most extensive trials on the part of the crown.

He said that he had never sought to disguise the fact that Jackson had provoked the police, in terms of his conduct, but “he was credible and consistent throughout this entire trial, while the officers admitted they lied under oath.”

Colin Williams stated that before November 18, Jemark had no pre-existing medical condition, and the doctor noted in his evidence that the injuries he suffered were as a result of blunt trauma. “The doctor said for him (Jackson) to have fallen down steps as the defence indicated, he would have had to have fallen from a helicopter,” Williams noted.

According to Colin Williams, the officers seemed to be of the opinion that if they beat someone and there were no visible injuries, they didn’t beat him. Williams also told defence counsel Arthur Williams that he “tried to do the impossible and represent three men. I am sorry for poor Ballantyne, who wanted to tell the truth. The three men’s interests diverged, but you kept telling them to stick to their story.”

He said that one of the major faux pas by the police was the fact that they tried to implicate Assistant Superintendent Wilisford Caesar as being the only person who placed hands on Jackson. He also pointed out the “arrogance” of Constable 240 Dwight James, whom Williams accused of coming to court with an interest to serve. The DPP also blasted Corporal Rudolph Barthomolew, the Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) at the time of the incident. “Bartholomew was always in the general office, so it was in his sight that the beating took place,” Williams said.

The DPP also said that it was Bartholomew who saved the men from answering to a murder charge. “Jemark was vomiting and asking for Phensic…Bartholomew must be saying that this man get so much licks, let’s take him to the hospital one time,” Colin Williams added. Williams stated that Jackson was “no spring chicken or rose, but they had no reason to discriminate his fundamental rights…this has been a very sad experience for all of us.”

In Arthur Williams’ address, he accused the DPP of misleading the court. The animated Williams told the Magistrate that the prosecution had not made out a case against his clients. “The DDP is only making a marathon of this. You want to tell me a man got beaten and he doesn’t have any contusion or abrasions? Do you believe that? When you get licks, you must have a little bruise,” Williams argued.

Arthur Williams noted that Jackson told the doctors that he fell from some steps and was experiencing abdominal pains. “You must dismiss this case on the evidence, I say so!” Arthur Williams ordered. Arthur Williams then referred to Jackson as a “little urchin” and “notorious liar” who has been before the court several times in the past and could not be believed.

The veteran attorney also chided the DPP for calling witnesses to the stand to testify. “You foolishly bring witnesses to the case and the evidence is tainted with inconsistencies and unsound reasoning,” Williams said.

Rounding off his address, Arthur Williams noted that the reason why the prosecution did not bring the other man, Kimron McDowall, who was in Jemark’s presence at the time of the alleged beating, is due to the fact that “they knew his testimony wouldn’t support Jemark’s case.”

Arthur Williams has already given the court notice of appeal in the matter.