Attorney Gerald Ramdeen has been hired by seven prisoners to seek legal redress for beatings they suffered during a lockdown and cell-to-cell search of the Port of Spain prison on Tuesday.
Relatives of the inmates contacted Ramdeen, who sought permission from prison authorities to gain access to his clients to record statements and photograph injuries which, they claim, they got from being kicked, cuffed and slapped by prison officers, some masked, during the lockdown.
Images of the prisoners being beaten were recorded by inmates using cell phones and later uploaded to social media. In the video, a prison officer wearing a black jersey with the letters ERU, which stands for Emergency Response Unit, is seen kicking and stamping on the inmates.
The prisoners plan to sue the State. They are Shakiel Rogers, Shaquille Isaac, Nickel Rennie, Kernell Rousseau, Gregory Goodridge, Willis Toussaint and Daren Romeo.
“This is another example of the unfortunate state of the administration of our prisons,” Ramdeen said. “Incidents such as these occurred in 2006, 2011 and 2015 and, in all of these incidents, the State had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to inmates.
“When incidents like these occur it fuels an environment of continued violence and a deterioration in the relationship between prison officers and inmates. It does not augur well for the administration of our prisons and for the rehabilitation of inmates held there.”
During the lockdown, marijuana, packets of cigarettes and wrapping paper used to make ganja joints, were found in a locker assigned to a prison officer. Inspector of Prisons Cedric Neptune could not be reached for comment yesterday.