Trinidad mom, sons get $280k for wrongful arrest

(Trinidad Guardian) The State has been or­dered to pay over $280,000 in com­pen­sa­tion to a woman and her two teenage sons who were wrong­ful­ly de­tained by po­lice dur­ing a rou­tine traf­fic stop.

De­liv­er­ing an oral de­ci­sion in the fam­i­ly’s case on Thurs­day, Mas­ter Sher­lanne Pierre or­dered the com­pen­sa­tion for three fam­i­ly mem­bers from Bar­rack­pore, who can not be iden­ti­fied to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of the chil­dren, who are still mi­nors.

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence in the case, the fam­i­ly was stopped by po­lice of­fi­cers while dri­ving near their home on Jan­u­ary 26, 2013.

One po­lice of­fi­cers re­port­ed­ly asked the woman why she was not wear­ing her seat­belt and she claimed that she could not be­cause she had re­cent­ly had an op­er­a­tion to re­move her ap­pen­dix and a cyst.

Not pleased by her re­sponse, the of­fi­cer al­leged­ly asked the fam­i­ly to ex­it the ve­hi­cle. The woman claimed that the of­fi­cer cursed her, pushed her against the car and threat­ened to charge her with re­sist­ing ar­rest and us­ing ob­scene lan­guage.

“When the of­fi­cer threat­ened to charge me I was very fright­ened be­cause I did noth­ing wrong and I have nev­er been charged for any­thing in my life,” she said.

The woman’s sons at­tempt­ed to call their fa­ther with a cell­phone but the of­fi­cer re­port­ed­ly took it away and threw it on the ground.

She was tak­en to the Bar­rack­pore Po­lice Sta­tion and was hand­cuffed to a cell gate as there were no fa­cil­i­ties for fe­male pris­on­ers there. Her sons, who were eight and 10 at the time, were forced to sit next to her for sev­er­al hours be­fore her hus­band came to the sta­tion.

“I tried to con­sole them as best as I can and as­sure them that every­thing was go­ing to be okay even though I was sure of what was go­ing to hap­pen next,” she said.

The woman was even­tu­al­ly trans­ferred to an­oth­er po­lice sta­tion, where she was placed in a cell un­til she was tak­en to court.

“I could not un­der­stand how the of­fi­cers could be do­ing this to an in­no­cent cit­i­zen and that they were abus­ing their pow­er in that man­ner,” she said.

The two charges were even­tu­al­ly dis­missed in March 2016 af­ter the po­lice of­fi­cer re­peat­ed­ly failed to at­tend hear­ings of the case.

Pierre was tasked with the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of cal­cu­lat­ing the com­pen­sa­tion for the fam­i­ly af­ter State at­tor­neys failed to file a de­fence to their law­suit be­fore Jus­tice Mi­ra Dean-Ar­mor­er.

Pierre ruled that the moth­er was en­ti­tled to $135,000 in gen­er­al dam­ages and $25,000 in ex­em­plary dam­ages.

Each of her sons re­ceived $30,000 in gen­er­al dam­ages and $30,000 in ex­em­plary dam­ages.

The State was al­so or­dered to pay their le­gal costs for bring­ing the law­suit. The fam­i­ly was rep­re­sent­ed by Ger­ald Ramdeen and Dayadai Har­ri­paul.

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