Eleuthera man sues over claims police placed hot sauce-filled fish bag over his head

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An Eleuthera man is suing the police over claims that he was beaten and had a fish bag placed over his head, choking him, while in custody for a crime he did not commit.

In an amended writ of summons, filed December 4, Kenton Fines details assault and battery he allegedly suffered after he was arrested on January 19, 2018.

Former Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson and officer Ryan Cooper are listed as defendants.

Fines claims a team of more than 15 officers handcuffed him and searched his Savannah Sound home without a warrant, ripping down parts of a wall and tossing around furniture.

He was arrested around 1am and released from custody around 4pm three days later on January 22, 2018, according to the writ.

While at his home, Fines claims, he was kicked in the throat by an officer after refusing to provide the passcode to his cell phone.

The writ alleges that Fines did not resist arrest, adding there was no reason for officers to use excessive force against him.

Officers allegedly confiscated his camera, with case and charger, license plates, $83 in cash and the keys to his home and car.

While in custody, Fines claims, he was told by officers that he was being held for questioning about a gas station robbery.

The writ read: “They took [Fines] out of the cell he was in while still handcuffed and carried him to a small room. They made him sit on the floor and and gave him shackles which they told him to place on his feet himself.

“[Fines] then became terrified as one of the officers rested a plastic fish bag on his head like a crown and said: ‘Tell us what you know.’ [Fines] told him that he did not know anything and that he had no idea what was going on.”

It continued: “One of the officers then made [Fines] stretch his feet and placed his foot on the chain connecting the shackles which limited [Fines’] movement. Another officer then started slapping, punching and kicking [Fines] in his head, about his body and even in his scrotum.

“Also, the fish bag was periodically pulled over his head and onto his face, limiting his breathing.”

Fines further claimed the officer then asked him if he knew “Grace”, and proceeded to pour hot sauce all over his face.

According to the writ, the officer also poured hot sauce in the fish bag and placed it over his head while a second officer continued to physically assault him.

“[Fines] eventually became numb and unresponsive,” the writ stated.

“He thought he had died and had almost given up any hope of coming out of the room alive. [Fines] thought if he did die, people would not know why he died and the alleged robbery would be pinned on him for sure. He felt hopeless and was worried that his three-year-old daughter would have to grow up without her father. He was devastated.”

Fines claimed he was then taken to the bathroom, where officers placed a pair of short cargo pants over his head and put him under the shower repeatedly.

According to the writ, Fines suffered excruciating pain and his eyes became irritated and filled with pus, making his vision blurry. His feet were also allegedly bleeding from the shackles, which remained on his feet while he was in the cell.

Fines further claimed he was allowed to receive food and given water during his time in custody; however, the writ stated he was not always allowed to use the bathroom. He alleged that he had to urinate in a Gatorade bottle.

According to the writ, Fines was taken back to his house while in custody on Sunday, January 21, 2018 and later taken to a clinic where his eyes were examined.

He was released on January 22, 2018 and has reportedly not been charged with any offense in connection to his arrest to date.

The writ stated a picture of Fines, taken from his WhatsApp status, was posted to a Facebook page on the day of his release.

The post identified him as having been arrested in connection with the gas station robbery. Fines claims he asked one of the arresting officers to return his belongings and take the picture down, and the post was removed the following day.

According to the writ, Fines reported the matter to the Police Complaints and Corruption Unit on February 1, 2018; and also wrote then-Commissioner of Police Ferguson on June 18, 2018 and December 11, 2018.

Fines is represented by Fred Smith, QC, of Callenders & Co.

He is seeking compensatory, aggravated and exemplary damages to be assessed by the court; and special damages in the sum of $500.99.