Prisoner loses assault case against cop

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A prisoner at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca will have to pay the State $14,000 in costs for a failed lawsuit in which he alleged he was beaten by a police officer at the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court in 2016.

David Sooklal’s assault and battery case was dismissed by Justice Frank Seepersad after a virtual trial on Tuesday.

Sooklal testified at the trial from the prison giving his account of what took place on January 7, 2016, as he was being taken back to the holding cells after he appeared before a magistrate.

Sooklal, who was handcuffed at the time, claimed that he was walking down a flight of stairs when an officer, who was later identified as PC Basdeo Rampersad, called out to him.

Sooklal claimed that Rampersad told him that he was related to the man he was charged with murdering before attacking him.

He said he was pushed to the floor and repeatedly kicked by the officer who also hit him several times with a padlock.

Rampersad, who also testified at the trial, denied that he started the confrontation and said it was while escorting Sooklal that the prisoner managed to release one of his hands from the handcuffs.

He said Sooklal attacked him using the handcuffs and after a brief struggle, he was able to restrain the prisoner.

Rampersad said that he also sustained injuries in the confrontation and had to seek medical attention.

In his oral ruling, Seepersad said the officer’s version of the events was more plausible. He also held Rampersad was acting in self-defence.

“The reality is that it was not a tea-party setting. It is a location where tensions could be high,” he said.

Seepersad said Sooklal may have exaggerated his version of events as the court felt the degree of injuries on his medical certificate did not coincide with the prisoner’s version of events in his testimony. He said it was likely that the chest injuries he received were a result of Rampersad kneeling on his chest to subdue him while the head injuries could have been sustained when he fell on the concrete floor.

Sooklal was represented by attorneys Gerald Ramdeen and Darryl Herralal.