(CMR) The Ombudsman, Sally Hermiston, has expressed concern over the police’s use of force in an April 2020 incident involving a motorcycle rider in the Newlands community.
In a release from the office on Tuesday (June 2), it was revealed that at least one of the police officers’ conduct in the incident was deemed to be “unnecessary” and “unreasonable”.
“The Ombudsman found that the force used by the arresting officer when he grabbed the motorcyclist’s arm and pinned him in order to handcuff him was necessary and reasonable to end the pursuit and effect the arrest. However, the Ombudsman was concerned about the second officer’s use of his baton to strike the motorcyclist,” read the release.
“She found that this use of force was unnecessary and unreasonable given the suspect was on the ground and, although struggling to get up, was not strenuously resisting arrest. She cited several tactical and situational factors which were not considered by the officer,” added the release.
Hermiston also found that the conduct demonstrated by the same officer when interacting with the woman at the scene did not comply with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service(RCIPS)Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behaviour.
The code sets out expectations for officers concerning self-control and tolerance and treating members of the public with respect and courtesy. The Ombudsman found the conduct to be unprofessional.
The final issue identified by the Ombudsman was the involvement of an off-duty officer who used his private vehicle in the pursuit. The Ombudsman noted in her report to the Commissioner that this officer used his private vehicle to conduct a tactical manoeuvre to intercept the fleeing cyclist.
The Ombudsman has since made several recommendations to the Commissioner of Police including consideration for disciplinary action to be taken against the officer who used the baton.
She also recommended that the pursuit policy be updated and implemented as soon as possible and a session held with all the officers involved.
On April 4, 2020, the RCIPS were said to have responded to complaints about several motorcyclists riding recklessly, performing stunts, and being a nuisance.
The police helicopter responded and located seven motorcycles and riders near Lookout Gardens in Bodden Town. As the police approached, the riders fled in different directions.
The RCIPS decided to pursue one motorcyclist who appeared to pose the greatest risk to the public. The pursuit continued for approximately 72 minutes.
It ended when an officer was able to grab the motorcyclist’s arm and pull him to the ground.
The incident was witnessed by several bystanders, some of whom recorded it and circulated their recordings on social media.