Commissioner ‘acted correctly’ in case of unlawfully detained officer


Tribune Staff Reporter

POLICE Commissioner Clayton Fernander believes he acted correctly in a case that has left taxpayers on the hook for damages after a judge ruled a police officer was unlawfully detained.

Sergeant Theodore Neily sued the government, saying police detained him for declaring support for attorney Maria Daxon.

He said on September 1, 2016, he was talking to a colleague at the Central Detective Unit about Ms Daxon’s arrest when he declared: “They should free Maria Daxon. No justice, no peace.”

Police had arrested Ms Daxon for allegedly defaming senior police officers.

After leaving work that day, Sgt Neily said he was summoned back to the office to meet Mr Fernander, then the Chief Superintendent of Police responsible for CDU.

 He said Mr Fernander questioned him about his comments then accompanied him to police headquarters to see former Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson.

 He said he was not allowed to drive his own car to headquarters but was instead driven there in a police jeep. He claimed senior police officers defamed him at headquarters.

 Supreme Court Justice Camille Darville-Gomez rejected his defamation claim.

 However, she ruled that he was unlawfully detained, writing: “It was pellucid from the evidence that the plaintiff was not reasonably suspected of having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence which would cause the plaintiff’s transportation from CDU to the police headquarters to be lawful. The plaintiff was not permitted to drive in his own vehicle and was unaware of the reason or purpose of his meeting with the Commissioner of Police.”

 The case has been adjourned to consider damages.

 Reacting to the ruling yesterday, Commissioner Fernander said: “No, it was not (an abuse of power) and that matter is being further addressed by the Attorney General’s office and I will leave it at that.”

 Asked if he believes he acted correctly, he said: “Absolutely, and that’s why the Attorney General’s office is looking further into the matter and they are looking at a view of appealing the matter.”

 National Security Minister Wayne Munroe supports the commissioner, saying he told him instruct the attorney general to appeal the matter.

 “A policeman on duty has to obey the order of his superior,” Mr Munroe said. “If the judge is correct, then if a senior officer were to say to a junior, ‘we are going on patrol,’ the officer could say, ‘I choose to ride in my own car’.”

 “Discipline is necessary in those agencies. You don’t get to decide how you do what you do. When they go on some operations, their phones are taken from them; all sorts of things that couldn’t happen to me or you, but then we’re not members of a disciplined force.”

 Attorney General Ryan Pinder said lawyers are reviewing the ruling and considering prospects for appeal.

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