Police admits errors in baton assault investigations

Police admits errors in baton assault investigations

The top brass of the Guyana Police Force on Thursday afternoon admitted that a number of procedures were not followed during the initial investigation into allegations of assault committed on a man while in police custody, allegedly by a police rank.

Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell said the entire investigation is now being handled by the Police Force Office of Professional Responsibility. It was previously being handled by the A’ Division Police Complaints department.

The 23-year-old young man who claims that he was sexually assaulted with a police baton by a rank at the Timehri Police Station, remains  hospitalised nursing serious injuries to his anus and intestines. The Police constable fingered in the alleged assault has been placed under close arrest  while the other police officers who were present during the time of the alleged assault have been transferred to different police stations close to the city.

The alleged incident took place back in November. The Police Commissioner said he first learnt of the complaint via text message from the mother of the young man. He said he received the text message in December and immediately called in the A Division Commander, George Vyphuis to launch the probe.

One month later, the A Division Commander was not being updated on the state of the investigation and the matter was only given added attention when it was highlighted in the local media.

Mr. Vyphuis said when his office launched the probe, it had only received a report of an alleged assault but the severity of the assault was not known until the young man’s mother visited his office with a cell phone recording of her son in his hospital bed explaining that he was sexually assaulted with a police baton by a rank. “The only time I knew the depth of this matter was last Thursday”.

Commander Vyphuis said the Sub Division Commander was put in charge of the probe but that officer did not get back to him with details of the investigation and the probe.

Deputy Police Commissioner and Crime Chief Seelall Persaud told the media that there were clear deficiencies in the way the original investigation was done. “When the statement was taken from the mother, had that rank understood the extent of the assault, he should have reported it, if the mother was saying what is in the news right now, it should have been reported to the Divisional Commander and that did not take place”, Persaud admitted.

The Police Commissioner said the investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility should be completed by next Tuesday and the public will be made aware of the findings.

He said like in any other police force, it is clear that the Guyana Police Force has some rogue cops and efforts are continuously being made address that problem.

The young man at the centre of the probe was arrested by the Police in relation to a break and entry matter. He said it was during his time in custody that a police rank aided by other ranks, used a condom covered police baton to sexually assault him by shoving it up his anus. He said he was also badly beaten by the police rank.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has called for a speedy probe and has said reports of police assault cases continues to undermine the efforts to reform the Guyana Police Force.

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