March 5, 2010
Williams – Officers were offered a civil settlement

The three police officers recently convicted of assaulting a 15-year-old boy had an opportunity to come to a civil settlement before the matter made its way to court.{{more}}

At a Sergeants and Corporals conference held last Thursday, February 25, at the Old Montrose Police Station, to discuss matters relating to discipline, station management and preparation of case files, keynote speaker Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams noted that officers Kasanki Quow, Osrick James and Hadley Ballantyne were given the chance to accept a civil suit settlement, but the offer was never accepted.

“I said to persons, look! Why is it these officers don’t talk to the Attorney General and arrive at a civil settlement in this matter?” Williams stated. The DPP said that because a civil suit still exists against the state in relation to the matter of 15-year-old Jemark Jackson, the fact of the conviction means that the state has no defense to the conduct of the police officers. “It is not the officers who have to pay. It is the state who would have to pay, because they were officers who were on duty at the time,” Williams added.

Williams went onto say that “I didn’t say so to them (police officers) directly…but I said go to talk to the Attorney General and if a civil settlement is reached, you could have said that we’re not acknowledging criminal culpability, but we are accepting civil responsibility that this man took ill while in police custody.”

Each officer was convicted just last month at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court and fined $1,500 each to be paid in one month or spend six months in prison.

On November 17, 2008, Jackson was beaten with a hose, slammed on the floor and kicked about his body repeatedly while at the Criminal Investigations Department. He spent seven days in a coma.

Furthermore, the DPP said that his position was that the state had no interest in prosecuting a criminal matter against the officers if there was a civil settlement. “A civil agreement arrived at between a person who alleges a contravention and the state. What interest does the public have after that?” Williams said.

However, Williams stated that the actions of the DPP are not immune from review and examination. He said that there can be judicial review and examination of such a decision. “If a DPP says that the State and the victim have arrived at an amicable solution, then I have no interest in prosecuting this matter criminally because it serves no good purpose,” said Williams.

According to Williams, the opportunity was refused by the men to arrive at a civil settlement and persons sought other advice and thought it better. “In my experience I saw what the end result was and in an effort for such a solution to be pursued, there was even an adjournment sought but persons were guided by other things,” Williams noted.

Describing the policemen’s conviction as a “sad experience”, the DPP said it is nevertheless an experience that they must all learn from. “Let us see how we do things better. Let us see how we improve our station management and how we appreciate the discipline of our profession,” he concluded.