THE daughter of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and her husband intend to sue the police officers who subjected them to a stop-and-search on the Easter weekend, but have first written to the Attorney General to determine if the State will accept responsibility and liability for the officers’ actions.
In separate pre-action protocol letters on Thursday, attorneys for T’Shauna Griffith-Bain and Da Vvian Bain gave the AG 28-days to say if the State would accept liability and a proposal for settlement.
The letters said the couple was advised that the “unlawful, negligent, egregious, oppressive and injurious actions of the officers” entitle them to general, special, aggravated, exemplary, and vindicatory damages if the matter goes to court.
The letters also said the two were advised that in such cases, damages are generally paid by taxpayers, but the couple gave instructions reserving their right to file proceedings against all the officers involved in their personal capacity.
The couple is represented by attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Leon Kalicharan, Kristy Mohan, Renuka Rambhajan, Desiree Sankar and Lana Lakhan.
On Easter Monday, the couple was driving along Rivulet Road, Couva, when they were stopped in a police roadblock.
They intend to claim compensation for unlawful detention, negligence, trespass to property, and trespass to person arising out of the stop-and-search they were subjected to.
Griffith-Bain was driving at the time. They said they complied with all the police’s instructions. The officers involved were named in the letters.
They accused the officers of being aggressive, accusing Griffith-Bain of behaving in a disorderly manner, and refused to tell them why they were stopped and their car searched. Griffith-Bain was also subjected to a body search, while her husband was not, the letters said. They were also only allowed to use their mobile phones after Griffith-Bain was searched.
Three of the officers were identified by name – PC Goinda, Sgt Badree, and WPC Francis.
The letters accused Goinda and Badree of provoking the couple and making statements in an offensive and threatening nature. One of the officers was accused of being untruthful when he said Griffith-Bain said because she was the commissioner’s daughter, she was exempt from being stopped.
The other officer was accused of threatening Bain.
The letters complained that two officers recorded the events which clearly showed not only their faces but also their car’s registration number and uploaded it on the internet. Francis did the body search.
The letters also pointed out that the couple received no tickets.
They also claimed, “Our client is the daughter of the Commissioner of Police, and although that does not entitle her to special/different/preferential treatment by officers, by virtue of this personal relationship, she and her family are exposed to a heightened risk of danger and of threat to their life, safety and security.”
The letters said the “unlawful, unauthorised, unprofessional and unreasonable" actions of the officers, which they “caused to be disseminated at mass volume, private and sensitive and identifying information about our client, have caused our client and her family members to receive threats from unidentified persons of a serious nature following the incident.’
The letters also said the couple was now severely traumatised, “causing (Griffith-Bain) to now fear for her safety and security and that of her family.”
On Wednesday, Police Complaints Authority (PCA) chairman David West confirmed the authority was investigating the incident.
Newsday also reported that on Wednesday, there was a stand-off between officers at the Couva police station and PCA investigators who went to get the station diary to assist with their probe. Initially, the police reportedly refused to surrender it until a senior officer arrived and handed it over.
Commissioner Griffith has also been reported as saying he does not get involved in basic police operations and if a citizen has an issue, they can take it to the PCA.
The seven-minute video clip, which has been shared on numerous social media platforms, shows the interaction between the couple and the police.