Bahamas Police Officer Beat Suspect With Baseball Bat
The Royal Bahamas Police Force’s code of silence was broken on Friday when a police officer testified against his colleagues who allegedly beat a prisoner and caused his death.
Desmond Key died January 19, 2008 after being in a coma for seven months, as a result of injuries sustained during a beating while in overnight custody.
Key was arrested on June 17, 2007 for a traffic violation and taken to a holding cell at the Grove Police Station.
Despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding Key’s death, the Royal Bahamas Police Force seemed to stymie an investigation and continually denied any police involvement in the prisoner’s death.
Only after the matter was brought to the public’s attention by the press and, as a result of Amnesty International calling for a complete and thorough investigation into the matter in 2007, was Corporal Donovan Gardiner finally charged with manslaughter in the death of Desmond Key. Constable Tavares Bowleg was accused of aiding and abetting Gardiner in the murder.
However, in a nod to the significant amount of corruption/dysfunctionality in the legal system of the Bahamas, the trial was delayed four times. Last year, Judge Vera Watkins put off the case after defense lawyers Wayne Munroe and Ian Cargill requested Key’s medical records.
To further the injustice, Gardiner was only charged with manslaughter. To add salt to the wound, Gardiner was never suspended from the force despite being charged with a serious crime.
Police Constable 2765 Kevin Roberts testified to a Supreme Court jury on Friday that Key was indeed aggressive and uncooperative during his arrest. However, Roberts also said the prisoner had settled down once he arrived at the station and was actually submissive once placed in a cell. Key also appeared drunk, Mr Roberts told the court.
Mr Gardiner went out of his way to fetch a brown baseball bat that had been confiscated in another matter. He then entered Mr Key’s cell with the premeditated intention of doing grevious harm or killing him. It is unlikely anyone would think that hitting a man in the head, repeatedly, with a baseball bat would do anything but kill the person.
Yet, Coporal Gardiner is said to have done just that. Claiming that Key threatened him and/or his family, Gardiner repeatedly hit Mr Key with the baseball bat, including blows to the head. No evidence has been presented that Mr Key actually threatened Gardiner or his family.
Constable Roberts told the court that Mr Key did not fight back. He also testified that Corporal Bowleg said, “I don’t know why Gardiner hit that man in the head with the bat.”
Roberts said he went to check on Key, who was coughing up blood.
Mr Roberts admitted he was hesitant to write up a report on the incident because he was friends with the accused officers. He finally wrote the report only after being told to do so, by two police sergeants who visited his home.corruption, courts, crime, police