Ex-murder accused files assault, battery lawsuit

Less than three weeks af­ter he was freed of mur­der, a man from Diego Mar­tin re­turned to court yes­ter­day for the tri­al of his as­sault and bat­tery law­suit over be­ing beat­en by po­lice at the Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trates’ Court in 2013.

Ak­ili Charles, of Covi­gne Road, Diego Mar­tin, took the wit­ness stand be­fore Jus­tice Ricky Rahim at Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, yes­ter­day morn­ing, to give his ver­sion of what al­leged tran­spired in the hold­ing cells of the court on April 3, 2013.

Charles, a prac­tis­ing Bud­dhist, had to af­firm be­fore giv­ing his tes­ti­mo­ny as the court does not stock any of his re­li­gious texts.

He ex­plained that af­ter ap­pear­ing be­fore for­mer chief mag­is­trate Mar­cia Ay­ers-Cae­sar for his pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry for mur­der­ing a man, he and his co-ac­cused Levi Joseph and Is­rael Lara were placed in the hold­ing cells with oth­er re­mand in­mates, who were await­ing trans­porta­tion back to prison.

Charles ad­mit­ted that he and the oth­er men be­came ag­i­tat­ed as staff at the court had de­layed their trans­fer for sev­er­al hours.

While he ad­mit­ted that he used ob­scene lan­guage to vent his frus­tra­tion over the de­lay, he de­nied that he joined in when his cell-mates be­gan throw­ing ob­jects at po­lice of­fi­cers.

Charles claimed that the of­fi­cers en­tered the cells and be­gan beat­ing them with ba­tons be­fore leav­ing.

He said that when the po­lice were even­tu­al­ly ready to trans­port them, they re­moved every­one from the cell ex­cept him, Joseph and Lara.

Charles al­leged that the of­fi­cers hand­cuffed them and then one of­fi­cer from the ear­li­er in­ci­dent beat them some more.

“The first ba­ton broke and they gave him an­oth­er,” Charles said.

Al­though Joseph and Lara were af­fect­ed, Charles was the on­ly one to sue the State.

Quizzed by at­tor­neys from the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al on why his med­ical on­ly showed that he suf­fered a bro­ken nose and ten­der­ness to his arms and legs, Charles could not com­ment as he main­tained his sto­ry.

Charles al­so de­nied that their al­ter­ca­tion with po­lice was the re­sult of them re­fus­ing to leave the cell.

“I was wait­ing all day for trans­port and I am re­fus­ing when it reach? That does not make any sense. That is il­log­i­cal,” Charles said.

His tes­ti­mo­ny was fol­lowed by that of Cpls Ian Lopez and Franklyn Reg­is, who were ac­cused of com­mit­ting the as­saults.

Both of­fi­cers de­nied any wrong­do­ing as they claimed that they were forced to de­fend them­selves af­ter they were at­tacked by the men.

“I know noth­ing about that. I on­ly struck them in an at­tempt to sub­due them,” Reg­is said.

While both of­fi­cers claimed that the men spat on them sev­er­al times that day, they could not ex­plain why that was not record­ed in the sta­tion di­ary as with oth­er de­tails of the in­ci­dent.

Both of­fi­cers claimed that it was an omis­sion.

On May 21, Charles, Lara, Joseph, Chic­ki Por­tillo, An­ton Cam­bridge and Ka­reem Gomez were freed of mur­der­ing Rus­sell An­toine af­ter Chief Mag­is­trate Maria Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle ruled that there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence against them to take to tri­al.

An­toine was mur­dered while walk­ing along Covi­gne Road on May 13, 2010.

Their case was one that had to be restart­ed af­ter Ay­ers-Cae­sar’s short-lived ju­di­cial ap­point­ment.

Charles was rep­re­sent­ed by Joseph Sookoo and Shan­ice Ed­wards.

Rahim is ex­pect­ed to give his judg­ment in the case on Sep­tem­ber 25.

 - by Derek Achong

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