Woman accuses cops of brutality after arrest over Camp St escapee

Tilawattie Singh

Tilawattie Singh, a Port Mourant mother who says she was arrested for allegedly supplying food to a Camp Street Prison escapee, is accusing the police of brutalising her after she was taken into custody.

Singh, also known as Angela, 38, of Ankerville, Port Mourant, recounted her arrest and detention on Thursday, while saying that she intends to take legal action against the police for the treatment that she received.

New Commander of ‘B’ Division, Paul Williams, when contacted about the woman’s allegations, told Stabroek News that they were never brought to his attention. “When you find these situations arise, I think sometimes the easiest way, in terms of trying to turn things away from you who would have been the person who condoned or the person who would have harboured the thief, is just to say that the police may have acted unprofessional or used excess force,” he, however, added.

Nevertheless, Williams highlighted that a person has a right to take legal action and also once a complaint is made about a rank’s conduct or performance during the execution of their duty, then an investigation will be launched. He mentioned that persons can lodge their complaints at the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Police Complaints Authority. However, he noted that no complaint had been received as yet in relation to Singh’s allegations.

Police are still searching for four men—Bartica massacre convict Mark Royden Williams, murder accused Stafrei Alexander and Uree Varswyk, and drug accused Cobena Stephens, also known as ‘OJ’—who escaped from the Georgetown Prison on July 9.

Singh told Stabroek News that two weeks ago an inspector attached to the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) and other policemen arrested her two weeks ago at her home.

At the time, she recalled, she had just returned home and was collecting bananas from her neighbour at their fence. She said she suddenly saw four police vehicles speed through her street and stop abruptly. The lawmen circled the area, she added, ran into her yard and began searching. “Them shaking the back fence and asking me who run deh and me say nobody na run deh. The lady and man just give me the banana,” she recounted telling them.

According to Singh, the police then searched the area, including all of the empty houses.

She then identified the MCU inspector and stated that he told her they had received information that one of the escapees was hiding in her house. She said she offered to take a policeman into her house to search but several ranks ignored her and ventured into the house and launched a search on their own.

After the lawmen found nothing, Singh said she was arrested. She claimed they placed her into a police vehicle and drove to the Babu John, Port Mourant backlands, where they allegedly began assaulting her. “From the minute me put down me foot, this man come and held on my hair and start deal me cuff to me neck, to me temple and in me head,” she said. “Me hold me head like this and me beg am, ‘Ow officer wah me do?’” Singh added.

She said at this point two other policeman disembarked the vehicle and began dealing her blows to her head as well. She also alleged that another lawman held unto her hair, dragged her into a drain and threatened to drown her, while other ranks encouraged him.

According to Singh, the attack led to her urinating and defecating on herself, which the policemen reportedly found amusing.

She said they then placed her into the vehicle and proceeded to the Babu John Cemetery, where they allegedly assaulted her once more. She also pointed out that one rank, attached to the Criminal Investigation Department, did plead with the inspector to stop assaulting her.

After the assault, Singh said, the police forced her to call her eldest son and ask his location. “Them tell me, ‘Tell you son to come.’ I say, ‘Child, what you did? Look how them police beating me! I’m seeing my dead here child! Where are you? The police need you!” she recounted, before adding that her son then begged the police not to harm her before informing them of his location.

Singh explained that they then rushed to the location, where they then also placed him into custody. Under questioning, she noted, her son told police that he had showed a man whose feet were “not good” her house. However, she added that her son claimed he left the man at the head of the street in Port Mourant and no one ever came to her house, nor did she see anyone fitting that description in her area at any time.

Singh said was then taken to the Whim Police Station, where she was in custody for three days. She also accused the police of victimising her while she was in the lock up.

She alleged that before being released, she was made to sign a statement indicating that she at some point provided food to the escapee. Asked by Stabroek News, if this was true, the woman said, “No.” She was then released from police custody and no charges were filed against her, she claimed.

She stressed, that she will be taking legal action and she has already hired a team of lawyers.