Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries

Police involvement in a non-criminal dispute

Investigation | 16 July 2018
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS)

The complainant and his friend were working together on a renovation project when they had a disagreement, which resulted in the complainant firing his friend. The friend returned to the job site to collect his tools and discovered that the tools were gone and in the possession of the complainant. The complainant was holding the tools until he received repayment of money which he believed the friend had stolen from his house. A police officer, together with the friend, visited the complainant at his home and the complainant returned some tools. The friend was not satisfied that all the tools had been returned. The complainant offered to allow the police to search his premises, but the police said it would not be necessary. The complainant believed that the matter was finished.

Four months later, a police officer contacted the complainant and explained that he had been assigned to the case of the missing tools. He indicated that if the tools were not returned, the complainant could face arrest for theft. The complainant offered to pay for the missing tools to avoid arrest. The police officer contacted the former friend and relayed the offer. The friend indicated that the amount was not acceptable and made a counter offer. The complainant alleged that he was so afraid of being arrested that he agreed to pay the higher amount in order to avoid the expense of defending himself and the potential loss of earnings involved in doing so. The police officer drafted a written settlement agreement for the two men to sign. The complainant paid the money and signed the agreement. The complainant later complained to our office that he felt intimidated by the police officer and settled because he was afraid of being arrested.

The Ombudsman found that the police officer had overstepped his authority when he became involved in a matter that should have been resolved in the civil court system. She recommended that the officers involved receive guidance regarding their role and authority to avoid such an incident in the future. The Ombudsman recommended that the Police Commissioner consider whatever disciplinary action he deemed appropriate. She also recommended that the complainant receive reimbursement for the funds he provided as settlement.

The Police Commissioner accepted all the Ombudsman’s recommendations. The officer involved in the settlement plead guilty of the disciplinary offence of conduct to the prejudice of good order and police discipline. He received a reprimand.