Authorities decline to comment on allegation of brutality
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Two Bahamian women were yesterday nursing serious facial injuries after what they described as a nightmarish encounter with police officers in Exuma early Sunday morning.
Recalling the encounter, which left one of the women with stitches to her right eye and the other with a cracked tooth, Dejah Laing and Aaliyah Bain told Eyewitness News Onlinethat they never expected to be victims of police brutality and only decided to come forward so that a light can be shone on the issue.
Samuel Humes, Bain’s and Laing’s cousin, claimed he and his relatives had just left the Rolleville Homecoming Festival and Regatta and were on their way home around 4:30 a.m. when they encountered a police roadblock.
Humes was driving the vehicle.
Bain and Laing were in the passenger seats.
“I assumed it was an accident, but then I realized that it was a roadblock,” Humes said.
“They (officers) saw that I only had one working light on my car, so they pulled me over.
“They told me to get out the car, and so I didn’t pressure them or anything like that.
“They started to write me up, then asked me if anyone else was in the car.”
Humes claimed a second officer made his way to the passenger side of his vehicle after the officer noticed his cousins were inside.
“He told my cousin to come out the car and she told him, ‘I ain’t coming out no car; you cannot touch me. I am a female. Where is the female officer’? Humes alleged.
He further alleged that the officer began cursing and continued attempting to open the door, eventually succeeding.
“He slapped her on her chest and she reacted,” he alleged.
“He gripped her and put her in a headlock, and started punching her.
“That’s when I started to see blood.”
Photos of the teens made the rounds on social media over the holiday weekend.
The images showed Laing with a bloodied, swollen face and a severe tear to her eyelid.
Her eyes were a deep red.
Bain had a swollen, bruised lip, and cracked tooth.
Her eyes were also visibly swollen.
When contacted, Rodney Williams, the officer-in-charge of the Exuma division, declined to comment.
He deferred questions to the public relations division of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).
When Eyewitness News reached out to the RBPF public relations office about the alleged incident, an officer advised that inquiries should be made to the Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson or Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Rolle.
Calls place to both Rolle and Ferguson were not returned up to press time.
With tears in her eyes as she spoke, Laing said the alleged incident traumatized her.
“When he came to the car, he looked irate and he put his hand through the window, and tried to open the door, but I locked it back,” she alleged.
“He did it again and I locked it back.
“When he opened it a third time, he gripped me by my chest and put me against the car.
“I reacted because he gripped me. So, when I reacted I guess he thought I was trying to put up a fight, so he punched me once and I fell to the ground.
“He then punched me again, like five times and I started bleeding.”
Laing alleged that there were two other male officers nearby at the time of the alleged incident.
However, she claimed none of the other officers sought to stop the alleged beating.
“My cousin Aaliyah, who was also in the car; when she tried to stop him, every time she would speak he would tighten the handcuffs on my arm,” Laing alleged.
“The officer put me in the car — three males officers by myself.
“So, my cousin willingly said she would come in the car as well because she didn’t want the officers to do anything else to me.”
Laing and Bain claimed they were taken to the George Town Police station.
She claimed that her cousin continued to cry as they were driven to the police station.
“My cousin was crying along the way, just saying how wrong the officers were for what they did to me.
“That’s when the officer who [allegedly] beat me, [who] was driving the car turned around and punched her in her mouth, and told her to shut up,” she alleged.
“I’m just traumatized.”
Bain claimed that when the officers took them to the police station they left them in the cell.
She claimed that after repeatedly calling out for help, the lights were turned off.
Bain claimed a female officer eventually came to the cell and took them to the clinic.
But she claimed that even at the clinic, she and her cousin her treated like criminals and were rushed in and out.
She continued, “After the clinic we were taken back to the police station and they kept us there until about noon. They then interviewed us and let us go.”
Bain nor Laing were charged with any crime, according to the women.
Another cousin, Sinisha Thompson, claimed relatives contacted the station in Exuma to get information and could not get any response about why Bain and Laing had been detained.
She said the incident was reminiscent of an encounter she had years ago with police officers, who she alleged pulled her out of her car in a case of mistaken identity and hit her in the mouth before sitting on her.
“When I heard about all of this it was a like a flashback. This is heart wrenching. I could remember being pulled out the car by police and being hit in my mouth. My teeth were broken and three male police officers sat on me,” she alleged.
Thompson added that her family does not plan to remain silent, despite being advised to for fear of victimization.