(Trinidad Express) He was promoted to Tobago to handle crime.
However, on the flight to get there, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Peter Reyes is said to have ran afoul of flight regulations and is now under police investigation.
But he thinks it’s simply a case of being a “black man” after he was asked to switch off his cellphone during a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight from Trinidad to Tobago on Thursday evening.
His comments were included in internal reports sent to CAL’s senior management by the two flight attendants on duty, Karen Wilson and Lieko Sue Hong, who were not aware who Reyes was until after the incident.
Reyes assumed duties as new ACP of Tobago on Friday. He was appointed to deal with crime in Tobago after the murder of a German couple Hubertus Keil, 74, and Birgid Keil, 71, who were chopped to death at Bacolet Bay last month.
Wilson said the incident occurred at about 4 p.m. after she had completed the safety demonstration and was walking to the back of the aircraft to secure the cabin.
“As I approached row 6, a cellular phone rang and I approached a male passenger seated at 6A whom answered the call and continued to have a conversation on the phone. I asked the male passenger to please switch off his phone. As he continued to speak on the phone I repeated my request to switch off the phone and he returned the phone to his bag, which was placed under the seat in front of him.
As I continued securing the cabin, the cellular phone started to ring again. As I returned to the male passenger at 6A, I asked him if his cellular phone was still on. He continued his conversation briefly with the caller and as I stood by his row asking him to please switch off his cellular phone as the doors were closed, the engines were running and the aircraft was taxiing, he advised me that it was an urgent call. I advised this passenger that all cellular phones must be switched off at this time despite the urgency of the call. He then loudly stated to me that I was attacking him because he was not white. At this time he increasingly showed that he was angry by talking loudly to the passengers around him referring to the point that I wouldn’t pick on him if he wasn’t black,” Wilson said in her report obtained by the Sunday Express.
Wilson said during the interaction, her colleague Lieko Sue Hong, approached her while she stood at row six and they both went to the galley of the aircraft to advise Captain Jason Wickham over the interphone of the situation.
“Ms Sue Hong returned to the male passenger seated at 6A while I was advised by Captain Wickham to ask the unruly male passenger if he was in a calm state of mind for the flight to proceed. As I was about to approach the area of row 6, I observed my colleague returning towards me in the aft of the aircraft stating that the male passenger was speaking loudly and in a disgruntled manner that we were attacking him because he was black,” the report stated.
When Wickham was advised of this development, he told the crew he would make an announcement advising the passengers that the flight would be able to proceed only if all passengers complied with the safety regulations.
“As Captain Wickham spoke to the passengers over the PA system, the passengers expressed openly that they were not in support of the male passenger’s noncompliance of the regulations. The cabin crew and Captain Wickham discussed the situation after the PA announcement was made and it was decided that the flight would proceed as the male passenger at 6A was then in a calm state,” it said.
However, Reyes’ phone began ringing again.
And despite the earlier censure, he again took the call.
“I immediately called the Captain via the interphone whom immediately advised me that we would return to the gate. As we returned to the gate, we awaited the arrival of the agents and security. The male passenger at 6A eventually proceeded to the aft of the aircraft with his hand baggage before any crew member or official advised him to do so. The rest of the passengers applauded as he did so,” she said.
Sue Hong corroborated Wilson’s story in her report on the matter.
Sue Hong described Reyes as “unruly” and made “racial remarks”.
“He said he felt like he was being ‘attacked’. I attempted at this point to reason with him but to no avail. He continued not to comply and became more enraged and continued to make more racial remarks,” Sue Hong stated.
By 5 p.m. the passengers were transferred and taken to another aircraft to Tobago.
After the crew returned from their daily rotation duties, they went to Piarco Police Station to make a report.
“The entire crew met with ACP Peter Reyes in the presence of three police officers where we amicably discussed the situation that occurred earlier onboard. ACP Peter Reyes apologised for his noncompliance and behaviour. I wrote a report of the events at the Police Station and a receipt was given to Captain Wickham. At approximately 12.45 a.m. the crew left the Piarco Police Station,” Wilson said.
Reyes: Ask someone else
Contacted yesterday to address the matter, ACP Reyes told the Sunday Express: “I don’t know nothing about that. I don’t know if there was an incident.”
When the Sunday Express pointed out it was in receipt of the flight attendants’ reports on the matter, he replied: “You will have to ask someone else then. Bye. Pleasant Holidays.”
Reyes eventually got to Tobago on another CAL flight on Friday, and not by helicopter as previously reported.
“He went to Tobago on a CAL flight. I don’t have the specifics at this point in time,” said acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday.
The Sunday Express understands an investigation has been launched into his conduct.
Asked is Reyes could face disciplinary measures, Williams responded: “The investigation must be completed before I can speak about the issue of disciplinary action.”