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