Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries



Unreasonable Use of Force During Arrest

Own Motion | 01 June 2020
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS)

Following a pursuit involving the RCIPS that occurred in early April 2020, videos surfaced on social media that gave rise to questions about the conduct of certain police officers. The Ombudsman decided that it would be in the public interest to investigate the matter.

The RCIPS had received complaints about several motorcyclists riding recklessly, performing stunts and being a nuisance. The police helicopter responded and located seven motorcycles and riders near Lookout Gardens in Bodden Town. As the police approached, the riders fled in different directions. The RCIPS officers decided to pursue one motorcyclist who appeared to pose the greatest risk to the public. The pursuit continued for approximately 72 minutes. It ended when an officer was able to grab the motorcyclist’s arm and pull him to the ground. The incident was witnessed by several bystanders, some of whom recorded it and circulated their recordings on social media. A struggle ensued and additional officers arrived to assist. Videos of the incident show one officer arriving on the scene and immediately drawing his baton and striking the motorcyclist on his leg while he was on the ground struggling with the arresting officer, who had him pinned. The officer then moved to confront a woman standing nearby, yelled at her and told her to return to her car. This same officer returned to interact with the woman on two further occasions, yelling at her and threatening arrest for recording the incident.

The Ombudsman found that the force used by the arresting officer when he grabbed the motorcyclist’s arm and pinned him to handcuff him was necessary and reasonable to end the pursuit and effect the arrest. However, the Ombudsman was concerned about the second officer’s use of his baton to strike the motorcyclist. She found that this use of force was unnecessary and unreasonable given that the suspect was on the ground and, although struggling to get up, was not strenuously resisting arrest. She cited several tactical and situational factors that were not considered by the officer.

The Ombudsman also found that the conduct demonstrated by the same officer when interacting with the woman at the scene did not comply with the RCIPS Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behaviour. This code sets out expectations for officers concerning self-control and tolerance and treating members of the public with respect and courtesy. The Ombudsman found the conduct to be unprofessional.

The Ombudsman has made several recommendations to the Commissioner of Police including considering disciplining the officer in relation to the use of his baton and his unprofessional conduct in his interactions with the woman at the scene. She also recommended that the pursuit policy be updated and implemented as soon as possible and that all officers involved be debriefed to review this incident and learn from it.