Visitors and residents were shocked and outraged when an off-duty Bahamian police officer savagely beat a tour guide in downtown Nassau in front of throngs of tourists.
The tour guide, identified by family members as Edena Farah, was leading a Segway scooter tour in downtown Nassau with approximately twelve tourists following her.
An eye witness said Ms Farah was stopped by an off-duty female police officer. The police officer, who was not in uniform, suddenly grabbed Ms Farah by the hair and started to beat her, in full view of tourists and residents behind the straw market.
It is not known what provoked the police officer, or why she behaved the way she did.
A large crowd of tourists, vendors and residents gathered with many expressing compete disgust with the officer’s behaviour.
“The police should not be [acting] like that. They’re nasty,” visiting French Canadian Dael Piwko told a reporter from the Nassau Guardian.
“[The police] scared us. We came here, we spent our money and what are they doing? They beat the woman. They’re showing us bad things. They should not do that.”
Police on the scene could not give details on what happened, saying the matter was still “under investigation.”
Another eyewitness said the female officer initially approached Ms Farah in a very aggressive manner and never identified herself as a police officer.
Witnesses said that after the police officer grabbed her by the hair, Ms Farah allegedly threw her drink in the officer’s face. The police officer reacted by biting Ms Farah.
Two male officers entered the fray, grabbing Ms Farah and hauling her off to jail for, of all things, “disorderly conduct”.
“It was the officer who was ‘disorderly'”, one witness was overheard telling a reporter.
Wendy Nixon, a straw vendor, said she was sickened by what she witnessed.
“The police beat her like they wanted to kill her,” Nixon claimed. “I’m calling on the chief of police to investigate the officers. They are not officers, they are bullies.”
Natasha Farah, sister of the victim, said she understood that her sister was originally stopped by the female officer because she was going the wrong way on a one-way street.
Ms Farah apparently told the officer that this was the route she always takes when leading the Segway tour. An argument started and the police officer “lost control almost immediately,” said another witness.
Ms Farah’s sister said Edena was punched in the face several times.
Tourists who witnessed the incident said they were shocked and outraged. many said they would never return to The Bahamas and would tell others not to either.
Bahamian police, many of whom are corrupt or incompetent, have been internationally condemned for their extra-judicial killings and other criminal acts.
A substantial amount of crime in The Bahamas is committed by police officers, or ex-police officers, including drug hits and major armed robberies.
Auto theft and drug running are just two of the criminal “industries” controlled by police officers.
Amnesty International has issued reports for several years criticising police brutality and extra-judicial killings by Bahamian police officers.
There has been numerous calls for an independent body to investigate the crimes of police officers in the Bahamas. Police refuse to accommodate such requests as it could result in many officers being prosecuted for criminal activity.