3 prisoners to get compensation after beating by guards

Port of Spain prison on Frederick Street, Port of Spain. - Photo by Sureash Cholai
Port of Spain prison on Frederick Street, Port of Spain. - Photo by Sureash Cholai

THREE prisoners who were beaten by prison officers at the Port of Spain prison in 2018 will each receive a little over $130,000 in compensation from the State.

Master Martha Alexander made the award on Tuesday, at a virtual hearing, after the State accepted liability for assault and battery.

Darren Romeo, Kernell Rausseau, and Shaquille Rogers sued the State after they were beaten on January 23, 2018.

A fourth prisoner, Gregory Goodridge, who was also beaten, had his assessment hearing adjourned pending a settlement with the State.

In their lawsuits, the men said they were in their cells when a group of prison guards in riot gear entered the area where their cells were located.

They said while inmates were leaving their cells on the officers’ orders, an inmate was slapped, causing an outburst from the rest of the prison population.

The officers left, returned to the cell block, and fired tear gas into the cells, then began beating the prisoners.

“I was very fearful of the officers,” Rogers said in his lawsuit. “The officers came back on the division and a seta dem come in front my cell and was shouting, ‘Come out, come out.’ Before I get a chance to come out the cell, I hear a loud explosion and smoke full up the cell.”

He said his eyes began to burn and pain and his skin felt like it was on fire.

“I did not understand what was going on and I had no idea what had happened. I was very frightened what would happen to me and the other inmates," Rogers said.

He said when he ran out of the cell, he felt several hard blows about his body and head and an officer jump-kicked him in the chest.

“I could not understand why I was being beaten, because I had done nothing to provoke the officers or attacked them in any way.”

He and the others said they were taken to another area of the prison, where the beatings continued.

"When I fall I continue to get licks. It never stop," Rausseau said in his witness statement. “I beg the officers to stop beating me, but they just continue.”

He said his hands were tied with plastic tie-straps and he begged the officers to take him for treatment.

“I tell them I was in pain and bleeding, but they just ignore me. The pain was too much to bear. I couldn’t take it. I feel like I was going to dead,” he added.

Romeo, who shared a cell with Rausseau, said when he saw the officers entering the cell block, he became fearful because “there is only one thing that happens when these types of incidents occur: inmates get beaten.”

The lawsuits said the beating was captured by another inmate on a cellphone and shared on social media.

"Soon after the beating there was a video on social media showing an inmate being beaten while lying face down with his hands tied behind his back...I am sure it was me on the ground," Romeo said.

They also said as far as they know, the incident was never investigated by the authorities.

“Not because I am in prison I should be beaten like a dog so.,” Rausseau said.

"I expected that there would be some type of investigation of this incident to hold accountable the officers who were responsible for this unlawful action that was carried out resulting in injuries to me and other inmates," the three men said in their witness statements.

In her assessment, Alexander ordered $85,000 in general damages and $45,000 in exemplary damages for each of them.

She ordered that they should be paid interest at a rate of two and half per cent from when the case was filed in 2019 to when liability was accepted.

The State was also ordered to pay the trio's legal costs for bringing the lawsuit.

They were represented by Gerald Ramdeen and Darryl Heeralal. Rachael Thurab, Adana Hosing and Michelle Benjamin represented the State.


"3 prisoners to get compensation after beating by guards"

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