A police officer, who was captured in a video that went viral on social media on Monday allegedly attempting to arrest a traffic warden on duty in Port-of-Spain, has been suspended.
The suspension was confirmed in a media release issued by the T&T Police Service last evening.
The officer was suspended from duty by acting Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher, pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident.
The police officer, who was off-duty, and the female traffic warden are currently assisting investigators.
The alleged altercation occurred on Frederick Street.
Harewood-Christopher was made aware of the incident shortly after noon.
Harewood-Christopher immediately instructed that an investigation be launched surrounding the circumstances seen in the video footage.
Guardian Media understands that the traffic warden was allegedly asking a female driver for her driver’s license and insurance when she was allegedly pushed by the off-duty officer.
It is also alleged by passers-by that the traffic warden was struck by the officer.
The video, which was over seven minutes, was captured by an onlooker and subsequently posted onto social media ,where it went viral on all platforms within minutes.
Meanwhile, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says he shared the concern of most citizens who saw the disturbing video of the traffic warden being “arrested” by an off-duty police officer and immediately called the TTPS leadership when he saw it.
When contacted on the matter by the T&T Guardian yesterday, Hinds said, “On the face of it, however we look at it, this is a most unfortunate incident, as it involves two law enforcement people—one in uniform in direct execution of her work and the other, a police officer who is vested with all the authority and power given to him under the TTPS Act.”
Hinds said he was awaiting the outcome of the investigations that were being done on the matter.
Hinds was among those who viewed the video of the altercation between the man and the female traffic warden, who was working on Frederick Street, Port-of- Spain.
Many people expressed outrage, horror and disgust at the sight of the female traffic warden being bodily accosted, “strong-armed,” “raffed” and handcuffed by the man, who was wearing short pants, a T-shirt and one slipper, who alleged to irate onlookers that he was an off-duty or plain clothes officer.
The incident particularly caused outrage among women on social media, especially after seeing what took place when the burly man began “fighting down” the traffic warden to handcuff her, after her alleged questioning of his driving documents.
With the traffic warden declaring, “Let me go!” as he tried to hold her to handcuff her, he subsequently pushed her into his car, where a woman sat in the front seat trying to hide her face from the cameras.
People were yelling, “You cannot do she that, dawg!”; “What de a** is this?!”; “Leggo the woman!”; “That’s a woman you know, she doing she work!”
People who gathered on the scene also appealed to the man to release the traffic warden. Some of the female observers gave the uniformed police—who arrived after—first-hand accounts of what occurred.
Hinds, also perturbed, said, “I had the discomfort of seeing that video and I shared the concern with most citizens of T&T on that matter. I immediately contacted the TTPS leadership and I was assured that the TTPS Professional Standards Bureau and others of the TTPS will immediately investigate the matter and it is under active investigations.”
Speaking around 3 pm yesterday, Hinds added, “Most parties up to a while ago were at Central Police Station and reports were being issued via statements being recorded from both parties as part of the investigations into the facts and circumstances in this matter.
“I’m very keen to hear the outcome of this, even as I contemplate that the TTPS spends lot of time and money training our officers in public relations and the way they must respond to even extreme provocation.”
He said TTPS officers get psychometric testing and all the training they get is geared towards them understanding they must use no more force than is absolutely necessary.
“So, I await the outcome of that investigation, as I’m sure most citizens of T&T do also,” he said.