Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 30th 2014 Contents KEVON FELMINE
While two Special Reserve Police officers
are being investigated for assaulting a
wheelchair-bound man in San Fernando,
those who witnessed the incident are sup-
porting the officers actions.
Workers along lower High Street told the
T&T Guardian that around 4 pm Saturday,
the man was begging for money and hurling
disrespectful and racist remarks to passersby
before he was pushed and slapped by male
and female officers assigned to the Rapid
Response Unit (RRU) at the Mon Repos
Snr Supt Cecil Santana said an investi-
gation was launched after a video of the
incident was posted on social networking
site Facebook. Up to yesterday, both officers
remained on the job, while the man, who
has an address in Gasparillo, was yet to be
interviewed and has not reported the inci-
Santana said: "The two officers have been
identified and an investigation has been
launched by the Professional Standards
Bureau on instructions from the acting
Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams.
We are treating it seriously and we can
assure that no stone will be left unturned
and the appropriate action will be taken."
But, according to shoe repairman Lennox
Andrews: "Police did not advantage him.
He looked for that."
Recalling the incident, Andrews said that
after noticing the man disrespecting female
workers of Chicken Unlimited, a nearby
restaurant, he tried to calm the man, but
he too began receiving insults.
He said the same man was also slapped
by a pedestrian earlier in the day for insulting
someone. "He was on his wheelchair begging
for money and people were giving it to him.
He started being disrespectful. Those girls
at Chicken Unlimited gave him money and
he was pelting it back at them. When the
police came, he called them names and he
spat on them.
"I even talked to him before and told him
to behave himself. He was drunk. He started
calling me names too. I didn t want to get
myself into trouble so I walked off," Andrews
Staff at Chicken Unlimited confirmed the
incident, saying they were throwing out
garbage when the man asked for fish broth
and threw money at them.
One worker said: "He shouted, Hello,
hello, Miss Lady, it have fish broth. We told
him no, it finished and he start throwing
money at us and telling us all kinds of things.
There were police at the bottom of High
Street and they came up."
Dave Fairley, who works at a clothing
store near where the incident took place,
said the man in the wheelchair was being
rude to passersby as well.
"I asked him why he was getting on so
and he started to tell me all kinds of things
too," Fairley said.
Workers said it was the first time they
saw the man. A social media user said the
man usually begs for money in front of
KFC s Gasparillo outlet, but a staff member
there said the man did not look familiar.
Professionalism must be maintained
Whether or not the victim was wrong,
the officers should have maintained their
professionalism, secretary of the Police Social
Welfare Association Insp Michael Seales
Seales said the association welcomed an
investigation, but hopes that all factors
would be considered.
Seales said: "The association will always
be mindful that an investigation will reveal
all the facts. A policeman or police woman
does not have the luxury of acting unpro-
fessionally regardless of the circumstances
they are faced with.
"It may be negative or undesirable, but
at the end of the day, they must maintain
professionalism even though a person may
be breaking the law. You are not allowed to
strike out at that person. Even if you have
to strike out at the person, the law provides
for you to use a baton, that way you are
covered, but for you to use an open hand
and slap a person or use a fist to cuff some-
one, it is a no, no."
Seales said the video has already shown
the officers in "bad light" as the man was
in a wheelchair. He said the man could have
been mentally challenged as well.
He reminded officers of their sworn oath
to act without malice, ill-will or favour and
urged them to guard against their emotions
clouding their judgment.
Seales said the man could have been
arrested and charged as spitting is considered
as battery and insulting language was against
San Fernando mayor Kazim Hosein said
this council was saddened after watching
the video, but called on citizens not to let
the isolated incident affect their relationship
In a release yesterday, Hosein said: "The
police are there to protect and to serve. It
will be reasonable if that protection from
violence and crime be expected from all
police officers. This isolated and unfortunate
incident needs to be further investigated,
especially when any officer appears to treat
any citizen in a manner in which they should
not, as we have been seeing in other parts
of the world today.
"We are grateful for the hard work of the
many disciplined police officers and are
urging all officers to continue engaging in
best practice in carrying out their duties."
Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Tuesday, December 30, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 29TH DECEMBER, 2014
'Slap' video goes viral
Two police officers are under investigation after
a video of them pushing and slapping a man in a
wheelchair in San Fernando went viral yesterday.
The video, shared almost 2,000 times by yesterday
afternoon, was seen by Assistant Superintendent of
Police (ASP) Joanne Archie who immediately ordered
an investigation into the incident.
"I am livid," Archie said. "We really cannot condone
that type of behaviour in the police service."
The video, which was recorded on Saturday on
Lower High Street, San Fernando, shows an unidentified
man in a wheelchair being pushed into oncoming
traffic on a one-way street by a female police officer
before hurtling into a parked vehicle. Less than a
minute later the man was slapped across the face by
a male police officer, dressed in a jersey and jeans,
who appeared to show him his badge before the con-
"I sent the video to Senior Superintendent in charge
of the Southern Division (Cecil Santana) and he will
identify the officers and begin an investigation imme-
diately," Archie said expressing anger and disappoint-
ment over how the officers handled the matter. She
said the police officers took an incorrect approach to
"Whether he was in the road or whether he was
abusive and using obscene language he could have
been arrested. Depending on his mental state, they
could have taken appropriate action but the officers
used physical force and that situation did not require
the use of that level of force," Archie said.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA), in a media
release, announced that it would also conduct an
investigation into the incident.
"The PCA is aware of a video that has been cir-
culating on social media of alleged impropriety of per-
sons who appear to be officers of the Trinidad and
Tobago Police Service (TTPS).
"Pursuant to the functions of the Police Complaints
Authority Act, the PCA has initiated an independent
investigation into the incident."
The PCA called on the eyewitnesses to the event
or people with information on the incident to kindly
contact the PCA at 800-2PCA or 627-4383 or e-mail:
In a telephone interview yesterday, CEO of the
National Centre for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD)
Beverly Beckles was left momentarily speechless
after viewing the video forwarded to her by the
"This is certainly unbelievable that a human being
could treat another human being, wheelchair or not,
in this manner," Beckles said. "I am confused. These
are human beings."
She said it was unfortunate that the incident had
to occur since the terrain in San Fernando was not
accessible for people with disabilities. San Fernando's
city centre is made up of sloping hills. The NCPD is
located in San Fernando.
"There are no walkways or pathways for people
with disabilities who use either crutches or
wheelchairs and the pavements are high and usually
quite crowded. As individuals and citizens we ought
to be respecting each other. This is crazy. I feel as
though as a society we have completely lost it, if
officers who are there to protect and serve are
treating people like that," Beckles said.
Probe into assault of
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