SRP not guilty of assaulting man in wheelchair

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

SRP Tynisa Phillip with her attorneys El Farouk Hosein, left, and Ainsley Lucky at the latter’s law office in San Fernando on Thursday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE – AYANNA KINSALE

More than nine years after a policewoman was charged with assaulting a man in a wheelchair by beating and maliciously damaging a car on High Street, San Fernando, a magistrate found her not guilty on Thursday.

As she stood next to her attorneys, Ainsley Lucky and El Farouk Hosein, at Lucky’s law office in San Fernando, Tynisa Phillip smiled and said justice had been served, although it had taken a long time.

Earlier on Thursday, San Fernando magistrate Natalie Diop found the SRP not guilty. Phillip, 44, of Marabella, had pleaded not guilty, and the case went to trial in September 2021. Thursday’s hearing was for a decision.

The charges stemmed from an incident on December 27, 2014, at High Street in San Fernando involving two officers in uniform. Another SRP, Roger Rajkumar, was also charged separately over the same incident with misbehaviour in public office and assault.

The prosecution contended that the policeman allegedly slapped virtual complainant Robby Ramcharitar, and the policewoman was alleged to have pushed the wheelchair, causing it to roll and hit a parked vehicle.

Rajkumar was committed to stand trial in the High Court. The incident was captured on a cellphone and the video went viral.

Cpl Joefield of the Professional Standards Bureau laid the charges. In 2016, Ramcharitar, who had no fixed place of abode, died.

Recalling the incident, Phillip said Ramcharitar was begging on the streets. He was under the influence of alcohol and kept asking passersby for money. She said she gave him $20.

Then he asked her to help with the wheelchair on the road. She slipped and the wheelchair got out of her hands. Phillip said she was helping him. Since the charges, she has been suspended without pay. Phillip said she survived by hustling and doing menial labour.

“If someone wanted someone to clean their houses or take care of people, I did it. At the time, I had just purchased my car from the showroom and had to fight to pay the bank for the loan. I have rent to pay and food to buy,” Phillip said.

“My landlord had been very lenient with me, because he knew I paid my rent on time when I was working.

“There were days my cupboard was empty.”

Lucky interjected that it was like the nursery rhyme Old Mother Hubbard (whose cupboard was bare), with which Phillip agreed.

Phillip is weighing her options on suing the state, adding that the case had taken a mental toll on her health.

“The damage has already been done in terms of my character and no amount of compensation can pay for that,” she added.

She is also considering returning to the job, adding that this year marks her 15th year of service.

Lucky said the case took nine years, one month and three weeks, and his client faced 11 magistrates over the years. He recalled that social media comments were critical of her.

Hosein, 86, who has been an attorney for 52 years, charged that it was when the video went viral that the police were sent to investigate. The attorneys said they were happy for Phillip. as it has been difficult for her to get jobs in the face of public comments.