Court grants $10.5M to man, sons picked up by Police probing bank related robberies
Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry has ordered the State to pay $10.5M to a man, his two sons and a friend after she found that they were unlawfully arrested and detained, taken on a “ride of shame” and threatened when they complained of the way they were treated.
When the incident occurred in January 2018, the Police were probing robberies which were taking place after persons left Scotiabank on Robb Street, Georgetown.
In 2019, a lawsuit was filed by Storm Fausette and his two sons Shaquille and Shakeif and friend Daryl Medas against then Attorney General Basil Williams, Commissioner of Police Leslie James, Detective Watson and Officer Semple.
The claimants were represented by Attorney-at-law Anastasia Sanford, while the respondents were represented by State Counsel Loretta Noel.
The Claimants said their arrests were unlawful and unjustified and that they suffered embarrassment, loss and damage.
According to the facts of the case, on January 30, 2018, Storm and his son Shaquille were in the city running errands and later picked up his five-year-old son Shakeif from school.
Storm dropped both of his sons at the home of Daryl Medas at Kisskadee Drive South Ruimveldt Gardens and proceeded to Festival City to meet one Mr Richardson.
Storm picked up back his kids and proceeded towards their home at Diamond along the East Bank of Demerara in motor car PTT 2261.
Whist in the vicinity of Industrial Site, they were intercepted by a party of Policemen. Storm and Shaquille were searched while Shakeif remained in the car.
The car was also searched and nothing of evidential value was unearthed by the searches. Storm and Shaquille were ordered to hand over their cell phones and they complied.
The Policemen then instructed Storm to retrace the stops he made earlier that day.
On arrival at Medas’ house, the Police searched Medas, his motorcar and two men who were at home at the time. Having found nothing, the Police seized the phone of the men.
The Police then allowed five-year-old Shakeif to be dropped off at his grandmother’s house, however, Storm, his elder son and Medas were taken to the East La Penitence Police Station, CID Eve Leary and eventually to the Diamond Police Station.
While at the Diamond Police Station the trio was placed in the lockups – a dark cubicle measuring 6 x 9 feet which carried a strong stench of faeces and urine.
While in custody, Storm and his son Shaquille asked the Police what was the reason for their detention and was given varying answers such as “it was a normal stop and search”, “police got dem wuk to do” and “it is a pending investigation.”
Medas also enquired from the Police why was his home was being searched without a warrant, and the ranks responded, “we is de police and we could search ya house” and “we got orders from the bigger ones to search this house.”
Storm made numerous requests to communicate with their lawyer and his son requested something to eat as he had not eaten for the day; all of the requests were denied by the Police.
The claimants were only able to communicate with their lawyer around 10 p.m. that night.
According to the Claimants’ account, the Police behaved in a most disrespectful, uncouth and unprofessionally manner.
On January 31, 2018, Shaquille was released and instructed to present himself the following day at the Brickdam Police Station to be placed on an identification parade.
On February 1, 2018, Storm fainted and had to be rushed to the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. He along with Medas were later released on station bail.
The trio was never charged for any offence.
The Judge in her ruling on October 5, 2020, noted that the respondents behaved in a most unprofessional manner, using colourful and degrading language and giving false names when the Claimants asked their names.
The Judge further noted that the officers took the trio on a “drive of shame.” The Police driver was instructed by Detective Watson to drive through busy areas and pass Shaquille’s school and to ensure that his teachers and classmates saw him.
Additionally, Officers Watson and Semple instructed the Claimants to wash their hands in a drain (running water was unavailable) in order to be fingerprinted.
When Shaquille threatened to sue, Detective Watson threatened to wait outside his school and also told him “duh is how y’all body does get find and ya murder does be a mystery.”
When chided by Medas that he ought not to speak to a young boy in that manner, Detective Watson retorted, “If I ever see you down the road I’m going to bore you up or chop yuh sk4$#t up, is cutlass I does roll with, you lucky me int had lil drugs fuh plant in ya house and loss you away in prison fuh life.”
The Police claimed that due to a spree of robberies committed on persons leaving the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Robb Street area was under surveillance by ranks from the Special Branch Unit.
They further contended that on January 30, 2018, pursuant to information, ranks from the Special Branch were conducting surveillance on the Bank of Nova Scotia when Storm and his son were seen acting in a suspicious manner in the vicinity of the bank. As a result they were trailed and intercepted at Industrial Site Ruimveldt.
In the end, the court awarded the costs as an appropriate measure to condemn the oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional acts of the Police.
Storm and Medas were awarded $3.5M each while Shaquille was given $3M. Five-year-old Shakeif was awarded $500,000.
Costs to the claimants were awarded in the sum of $250,000 to be paid by the respondents jointly/severally on or before November 18, 2020.