The mother of a domestic violence victim, who was murdered five years ago by an abusive, jealous, possessive ex-boyfriend after failed attempts to get help from the police and the judiciary, has filed a novel lawsuit seeking to get justice for her daughter and to “ensure this never happens to anyone in this country again.”
To date, the State has not yet responded to the claims made by Tot Lampkin, 58, of Upper L’Anse Mitan Road, Carenage.
The legal action comes on the heels of recent incidents of domestic violence where three women and a 12-year-old boy – Abeo Cudjoe and her son, Stephanie Calbio and Krishana Mohammed – were murdered and their relatives have claimed neglect of duty by the police to take action against the offenders which could have prevented their deaths.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has commenced separate investigations in those matters and can make recommendations to the Commissioner of Police to take disciplinary action against officers if there is evidence to support the claims.
Lampkin wants the High Court to rule on several declarations which claim Samantha Stacey Isaacs’ constitutional rights were infringed by the failure of state agents to act which deprived her daughter of the right to life, security of the person and equality before the law.
The lawsuit also seeks declarations that Isaacs was subjected to cruel and unusual treatment, without respect for her family life, without equality of treatment from public authorities and the actions of the state agents amounted to discriminatory treatment.
The lawsuit which was filed on September 21, 2021, is scheduled to come up for hearing before Justice Robin Mohammed, at the Hall of Justice, in Port of Spain on May 24. The Office of the Attorney General, which represents both the police service and the judiciary, has requested more time to respond to the claims after missing court deadlines on three occasions.
The case, if successful, can open the way for other victims of domestic violence to take action against the state and get compensation for the failure of law enforcement and judicial authorities to take action to protect victims.
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes leads Clay Hackett for Lampkin while Fyard Hosein, SC, and Rishi Dass are representing the state.
On Friday, Lampkin said goodbye to her son who died in a boating accident recently.
To support her claims, Lampkin has produced receipts of police complaints, transcripts of hearings before two magistrates and a detailed account of the torturous life her 26-year-old daughter lived before she was shot in both legs and behind the head by Kahriym Garcia on December 16, 2017, and left on the roadway in Carenage. Before she died she named her attacker. Garcia, 31, fatally shot himself as police moved to arrest him that same day.
On the same day of her murder, Isaacs reported to the St Clair police that Garcia had assaulted her while he was taking her to work.
Isaacs reported she was repeatedly beaten, attacked with a knife, while Garcia had a gun, harassed at her workplace, humiliated after he shared her nude images and threatened to be killed in the presence of officers and yet no action was taken.
In court transcripts, she pleaded with a magistrate to grant her a protection order and although Garcia agreed to stay away the magistrate refused to grant the order saying Isaacs was using that as a ploy to get maintenance for her infant son. In one hearing the magistrate, dismissed her application seeking a protection order after the matter was stood down for just 22 seconds.
In December 2011, Isaacs, a UWI student pursuing a degree in biochemistry, met Garcia, an offshore worker, at a Christmas party. Garcia, the son of union leader Michael Annisette, lived with his grandmother Dolcie Garcia at Point Cumana and was ejected from the home after Garcia threatened the woman. She had to get a restraining order against her grandson because of his unruly behaviour and threats.
Lampkin said Garcia began to visit her daughter often and stayed overnight at times but she was turned off by his attitude and obscenities and warned her daughter about his behaviour.
She said in the early part of the relationship, her daughter, who lived in the apartment below hers, would be heard crying after arguments with Garcia who accused her of being unfaithful and he demanded to go through her phone checking call logs and messages.
The woman said she witnessed Garcia physically and verbally assaulting her daughter in full view of her daughter's father, siblings and friends and Garcia did not seem to care what the family thought about his behaviour and often boasted that he was not afraid of anyone, including the police.
Lampkin said as the relationship continued she often had to intervene to protect her daughter from blows and shrugged off death threats from Garcia.
The abuse became untenable on May 21, 2013, and Isaacs made her first official report to the police after Garcia smashed her cellphone because she had not answered him while at school. He had called her over 100 times. Instead of investigating Isaacs's criminal complaint of malicious damage, the police instructed him to reimburse the cost to replace the phone.
Lampkin said she again warned her daughter to end the relationship but she did not and Isaacs became pregnant in August 2013 forcing her to drop out of UWI and get a job at Digicel as a customer service representative to be able to take care of her unborn child and her pregnancy needs.
Even during her pregnancy, Isaacs was assaulted by Garcia and Lampkin had to intervene in one instance where Garcia held a knife to her daughter's neck accusing her of not answering her cellphone when he called.
She said during the entire history of Garcia's violent conduct, the police never visited, questioned nor arrested him about the reports made by her daughter and herself.
The PCA had recommended disciplinary action against one officer at the Carenage station for neglect of duty to investigate a complaint of malicious damage made by Isaacs on May 12, 2013, after Garcia had smashed her cellphone. After an investigation, the Police Complaints Division subsequently found no evidence to support the PCA’s recommendation.