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State to pay damages in wrongful arrest case
The desire to fight crime should not turn into a war on law abiding citizens. San Fernando judge James Aboud said so yesterday as he awarded $137,250 to three friends who were wrongfully arrested and detained for over eight hours by the police. In his judgment, Aboud said the police officers seemed to have arrested the friends through “over-zealousnesss.”
Arnold Seales, Ashton Ramkissoon, and David Pustam, all of Palo Seco, sued the Attorney General for false imprisonment. The men were in San Fernando to take part in a cricket match. They testified that around 11 pm on March 17, 2005, the police stopped the car they, along with another person, were in at Lord St San Fernando.
The officers cursed them and ordered them out of the car. They were searched but nothing illegal was found. However, the friends were handcuffed and taken to the San Fernando Police Station. Pustam described the cell they were all placed in as being cold, damp, exceedingly filthy with a putrid smell.
Later that night they were taken to the Chaguanas Police Station. The men said they were released around 7.30 the next morning without being charged. However, the officers’ evidence was that they arrested the friends because they matched the description of suspects in a robbery in Chase Village. In his judgment, Aboud said the note in the police station diary suggested the robbery suspects faces were covered.
He could not understand how the police could say the three men matched the description of the suspects. Aboud ordered the State to pay each man $25,000 in damages, along with six per cent interest per year from May 23, 2005, the date of the filing of the lawsuit along with costs in the sum of $9,500 each. The men were represented by attorneys Kevin Ratiram and Haresh Ramnath.
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