Headline — 12 May 2015 — by Kareem Clarke
Did police beat robbery suspect into semi-coma?

DANGRIGA TOWN, Mon. May 11, 2015–At press time tonight, Jean Pasqual, 21, who was accused of being involved in a robbery which occurred on the night of Friday, May 1, is reportedly still in a semi-coma in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after he was allegedly beaten by Dangriga police while in their custody last weekend.

Pasqual’s brother, Oswald Mena, who was witness to police shooting at three men suspected to have been the ones who attempted to rob a drug store, told Amandala that when Pasqual was arrested by police, he was in good health, but after he was detained and later charged for robbery, he was badly injured in the head while in police lockdown, and now he is suffering from what appears to be a troubling brain injury.

Mena explained what happened when Pasqual – who had jumped into a nearby river – was held by police after he was accused of participating in the robbery of a drug store in Dangriga with two other men.

He said, “While I was out there looking on, the individual in the water came near where I was and I noticed that it was my brother, so I yelled at him and upon yelling at him, I noticed that he surrendered and placed his hands against a lamppost.”

“Directly behind me, there was a CIB [officer] standing, and he mentioned, ‘mek we kill he r*** rite now,’ so I told them, ‘that’s my brother, what you want to kill him for?’ and he [the policeman] turned around and pointed his gun at my cousin who was with me,” Mena continued to recount.

“At the same time, police came in a boat and arrested Jean. My brother walked out of the river and he was trying to tell me something, but they didn’t allow him. [So], I got into my vehicle and went to the police station, but they told me that he was taken to the hospital because he got a gunshot wound. When I reached at the hospital, the doctor told me that the police have not even done their rounds yet,” he further said.

It turned out that Pasqual did not actually receive any gunshot wound, but due to his grave condition, he was transferred to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) where, according to his relatives, he is listed as being in a semi-comatose state with multiple bruises on his body and bleeding in his brain. He has not regained full consciousness and reportedly cannot recognize his own relatives.

The police’s version, we are told by the family, is that Pasqual injured himself when he jumped off a bridge into the water to avoid being captured by police.

The family, however, are not buying that story and adamantly believe that police put a severe beat-down on Pasqual, which led to the very serious injuries.

Mena explained that when he saw Pasqual while he was still at the Dangriga Police Station, he was unable to walk, and when he went to visit him at the KHMH this past Saturday, he was unresponsive and unable to identify him as his brother.

Mena added that they are not shying away from the fact that Pasqual was suspected of being involved in a crime, but insisted that the officers used unjustifiable force.

“I won’t swear for my little brother because he does his ‘dirt’ to survive, but it didn’t have to go that far. If you already have him in custody, why are you going to beat him down for?” Mena said.

“I heard that police are saying that he knocked his head when he jumped into the water, but then, [if he had been injured] how could he have seen [at the time] that it was his brother [me] that was there, and now [at the hospital], he can’t even recognize me. I know they beat him because they took him to court in a wheelchair,” he insisted.

The concerned brother told us that they have been trying to speak with authorities regarding the circumstances leading to Pasqual’s injuries; however, they have been given the cold shoulder.

Mena said, “The police don’t even want to talk to us or give us any kind of information. My little brother was in a cell with feces – they wouldn’t even accept food or water for him, so he went through the long weekend without even eating.”

“When he went to court, and I saw him, my tears fell because my brother was healthy before, his face did not look like it was caving in, he was healthy and while he was in and out of consciousness, we got a statement from him [about what happened]. We want to see justice get served, so we will do what we have to do,” Mena said.

Mena noted that his brother has since gotten a CAT scan which revealed that he has multiple blood clots in his head. He also reportedly has multiple bruises on his feet and face, and has been going in and out of consciousness since being admitted to the hospital.

The family is seeking legal recourse and has maintained that they will do everything in their power to get justice for what they see as a blatant abuse of authority on the part of the five law enforcement officers who allegedly brutalized Pasqual.

Today, we tried reaching Supt. Roy Joseph, the Officer Commanding Dangriga police, for his response to the allegations, but our calls have so far gone unanswered.

On Friday, however, Joseph told 7 News that as far as he is aware, none of his police officers inflicted any sort of injury to Pasqual while he was detained pending investigation for the robbery.

Joseph insisted that when the officers pursued Pasqual during the robbery in progress, Pasqual jumped off the bridge to avoid being caught, and suggested that there is the possibility that he injured himself when he did that.

Joseph further mentioned that because an allegation has been made against Dangriga police, he is obliged to investigate it thoroughly, and also reminded us that the department has a zero tolerance policy for police brutality – if it can be proven.

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