(CMR) A pregnant lady has contacted Cayman Marl Road after complaining on social media that she was “manhandled” by Royal Cayman Islands Police officers this morning during the execution of a warrant.
Crystal Barnes (25), has stated that she received a $300 ticket for several traffic offenses that occurred in January 2016 and was only dealt with by the courts in November 2017. She explains that she had been to court several times regarding the matter and was granted extra time to pay the fine. In November she paid $50 and was given until March to pay off the balance of the $250 by a judge.
Apparently this was the third time the officers had attended her residence about the same outstanding matter. The initially came about two weeks ago at which time she requested and was granted an extension. Then they came back last week and again this morning. The incident this morning apparently got out of control and now Crystal is demanding something be done about the way in which she was allegedly handled this time by officers.
She claims that last week the court staff claimed they couldn't find the documents and she was not expecting officers to return again today – figuring the court staff would have sorted the matter out.
Part of the incident was captured in several Facebook Live videos.
She informed CMR this morning:
“I had until March to pay this fine and apparently the court staff never updated this information. I am very upset about this because they didn't do their job”
However, the RCIPS officers still showed up to her house in Bodden Town this morning to serve a warrant for the paid ticket. It turns out the court staff had not updated their records to have the warrant lifted.
In the first Facebook Live video the woman is seen telling police that she needs time to get ready and she's trying to put on her shoes and lotion before being taken out of her home.
“He's telling me to hurry up I'm taking too long. I was not resisting arrest I was trying to get dressed. He could have waited for me instead he busted through the room door not knocking or knowing if I had on clothes or not.”
Visibly upset during the altercation the woman who is 8 months pregnant can be seen on the floor of her home instructing the officers to get out of her face. At the time of publication she was still being held by police.
She can be heard telling the police that she's getting herself ready and didn't want to be rushed by the police officer.
She also claims that she was dragged out the door and sustained bruises to her harm in the process.
Despite having until March to pay the fine Barnes arranged for a friend to pay it in full today so that she does not have to deal with this again during the remainder of her pregnancy.
Last week the RCIPS issued a notice urging the public to deal with outstanding warrants and unpaid fines as they made countless arrests last week. The warning came after officers made dozens of arrests last week during a warrant operation.
On Thursday, officers executed 31 warrants at people’s homes and workplaces. Most were for failing to pay fines or appear in court for various criminal offenses, such as theft, possession of cocaine, and traffic infractions, including dangerous driving.
“Being served with a warrant is never convenient or pleasant for anyone,” said Chief Inspector Frank Owens.
“No one wants to be located at their place of work and arrested, but it does happen. We therefore ask the public to take care of their court business promptly,” he added.
When a warrant is executed, a person is taken into custody at the Fairbanks Detention Centre, where they are booked and either must pay a fine, be bailed or taken to court. Police will be continuing these warrant operations and are advising members of the public who know they have outstanding warrants or fines to go to the courts office in order to have them resolved.
CMR has contacted the RCIPS for comment but none have been provided at press time.
UPDATE: She has been able to confirm that the courts lifted the warrant on January 5, 2018.
An RCIPS spokesperson said that officers had viewed the footage and referred the matter to the Professional Standards Unit “for an investigation into the full circumstances of the arrest”.
The news comes following a police meeting in West Bay Wednesday evening where Commissioner Derek Byrne said he was committed to ensuring his officers behaved with respect and courtesy and that he “wanted the shoulder number” of all officers who behaved in an ignorant, arrogant or impertinent manner.
The PSU is now solely an internal body of inquiry, as all complaints from the public about the police are being handled by the new independent police complaints authority that forms part of the new Office of the Ombudsman