The High Court has awarded compensation to two men who were beaten by police officers in separate incidents. The awards combined amount to more than $229,000. Both men were represented by attorney Gerald Ramdeen.
In one incident, Darrell Wade said the officers were like men possessed. Wade was taken from the Port of Spain Prison to the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court on December 17, 2009. He was placed in a holding cell with about 20 other prisoners. One police officer instructed Wade to "fix' a plastic bag which was in the cell.
In his witness statement, Wade said he told the officer that the plastic bag was empty and he could not fix an empty plastic bag because it would always blow around with the breeze. The officer left but returned and repeated the order.
The court heard that the officer then slapped and cuffed Wade in his face. Three other officers arrived and started beating Wade with their batons all over his body. He was then dragged along the floor to the toilet area at the back of the holding cells where the beating continued.
"I was then directed by the officers to go to the prison transport to be taken back to the prison," Wade said.
"I could hardly walk to get back to the prison van. I had to limp back to the van and each time that I stopped, the officers would push me with their baton. I was frightened that I would lose my life when the officers were beating me. They were like men possessed."
When he arrived at the prison, the reception officer asked Wade if he left the prison with those injuries and he replied "no". Wade was ordered taken back to the Magistrates Court by the reception officer who said he was not going to receive him with injuries he received outside the prison unless he had a medical report.
Wade said he was taken back to the Magistrates Court, along with several other inmates, and they were all beaten.
"At one time the officers stopped the beating. I fell to the ground because I could not stand up."
Wade was eventually taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was examined, had his wounds dressed and given pain killers. He said the doctor had recommended that he remain at the hospital for further treatment but the officers refused saying he had to return to prison.
At the prison, Wade said he was not given any medication for his pain.
The State was ordered to pay general damages in the sum of $60,000 plus interest, exemplary damages in the sum of $15,000 and legal costs in the sum of $11,961.60.
In the other incident, labourer Jason Superville, 31, was standing near his home at Malabar in Arima on December 26, 2010. He was on his way to a wedding reception when, at around 10.30 p.m., he was approached by a group of officers in a marked police vehicle.
Superville said he was asked by one of the officers where he was going but before he could respond, was hit with a baton to the back of his head by another officer.
"One of the officers kept asking me 'Where you going? Where the f..k you think you going'? Before I could answer the officer hit me a slap to my face. Another officer came up to me and told me: 'All allyuh young boy in this area only like to rob people and dress up nice. We go teach you a lesson here tonight'."
Superville was kicked, cuffed, slapped and beaten all over his body while his hands were being held behind his back by two officers.
"While I was being held down, one of the officers came up to me and told me I should have a little more respect for police. Before I could say anything, the officer hit me a cuff to my mouth. Blood was running down from my lips into my mouth and dripping down my chest and on my clothes. I thought the officers were going to kill me."
Superville said one of the officers then told him to hand over all his money. The officer took the $500 from Superville's possession saying: 'We get spending money tonight'. He also took Superville's cellphone. Superville said one of the officers also took his (Superville's) hat and was wearing it.
He said the attack continued for sometime with the officers taking turns beating him while using obscene language.
Superville said he clasped his hands together and begged the officers to stop but they just laughed at him. He said one of them used a baton to hit him in his belly which resulted in him urinating on himself.
Superville lost consciousness. When he woke up, he was in a cell at the Malabar Police Station in nothing but his underwear. He said he called out for help but was cursed by the officers in the station.
The following morning, Superville, still dressed only his underwear, was released from the station without any charges being laid against him. Superville said he limped to his home about 500 metres away.
He was taken by his family to the Arima Hospital where he received stitches to his head and was advised to go to the Mt Hope Medical Sciences Complex for x-rays to be done and he did so.
Superville's mother took several photos of his bruises and he also made a report to the Police Complaints Authority.
The court ordered that he be paid general damages in the sum of $105,000 plus interest, exemplary damages in the sum of $20,000 and legal costs in the sum of $17,477.10.