TWO police officers who were charged with assaulting Kyle Mitchell in 2016, were freed on Wednesday by a Princes Town magistrate who found the prosecution evidence “troubling.”
Senior magistrate Rae Roopchand, who conducted the case via video conference, ruled that the prosecution failed to make out a prima-facie case against PCs Windesh Balgobin and Jeffry Jackman.
The officers, who were attached to the Princes Town Police Station at the time, were charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm to Mitchell, the son of special reserve police officer Sharon Joseph.
Cpl Lawrence Joefield of the Professional Standards Bureau laid the charge.
The preliminary inquiry began in 2019, Attorney for the State Selwyn Richardson tendered into evidence witness statements from nine police officers, a justice of the peace and a civilian. Mitchell testified that on December 17, 2016, at around 10 pm, he was on his way to a club after leaving the home of an aunt at Karamath Development, Princes Town when he encountered the officers.
He said they fired a shot, took him to a cane field where they beat and choked him, then took him to the Princes Town Police Station, where he was made to sign a statement, without reading it, before they would release him.
Michell’s mother, who was also called as a prosecution witness, said in her statement that on the night in question, she visited her son at the station, and also signed the station diary without reading the entry because she had to return to work and wanted Mitchell to leave with her.
At the end of the prosecution’s case, attorney Kevin Ratiram, who represented the two officers, made a no-case submission, citing the evidence, particularly that of the victim, as “adduced by the prosecution was rendered manifestly unreliable by cross-examination.”
Ratiram said there were several inconsistencies in Mitchell’s evidence and aspects of the prosecution case were “unrealistic and implausible.”
Roopchand said in his ruling the evidence was “troubling,” as the beatings Mitchell described were not supported by the medical report.
He also found it strange that Joseph, a police officer, would signe the station diary without first reading it.
He also referred to the submission of WPC Vernessa Buntin, a prosecution witness, who was on sentry duty on the night of the incident and issued a firearm and 30 rounds of ammunition each to Balgobin and Jackman, which they returned at the end of their shift.
The magistrate said this suggested neither had discharged any rounds.
Roopchand said if the officers had had body cameras there would have been independent external evidence of what happened, as opposed to relying on what people said had happened.