Fired officers Dion Morris and Renardo Bethel say they were vindicated when the Court of Appeal overturned their gun conviction and are now looking to be reinstated on the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and receive back pay.
Families for Justice Founder Pastor Glenroy Bethel insisted at a press conference yesterday that the duo is only seeking what is justly owed to them.
“These former police officers as we sit here today have won their case against the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General. The Families for Justice held a private meeting with both of the officers regarding their future with the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the community of Grand Bahama in which they had served,” he said.
“They have expressed being reinstated to perform their duties and they also expressed full compensation of all of their back pay for the last five years.”
Pastor Bethel insists that tremendous damage has been done to the former officers and the organization saw fit to get involved from day one.
“It should have never happened. They should have never seen the walls of prison, period and they never should have lost their job,” said Pastor Bethel.
Morris, 39, and Bethel, 26, were attached to the Port Lucaya Police Station at the time of their arrest in 2008, were arraigned in January 7, 2009 and dismissed from the force days later.
The couple had allegedly been found in possession of a .45 handgun and seven live rounds of ammunition.
Morris, who was a corporal, had served 26 years and Bethel, then a constable, had served for six on the force up until that time.
Following a three-year-long trial, they were convicted and sentenced to two years in May 2012.
The former cops appealed the conviction and sentence and it was overturned by the Court of Appeal on March 14.
Now, the Families for Justice organization is calling for justice for the officers who were put on half pay after their arraignment and dismissal and then cut off following the conviction.
The Appeals Court decision, the men say, makes way for their full entitlement which, for Morris amounts to roughly $100,000 and $60,000 for Bethel.
The men say neither of them have heard anything from Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade or Assistant Commissioner Emrick Seymour since the decision.
Letters have been forwarded to Greenslade, Seymour and the Attorney-General’s Office two weeks ago in reference to the reinstatements and back pay, according to Pastor Bethel, who is the father of ex-Cpl. Bethel.
“They have that right, seeing that they had won their appeal and, based on also what the Court of Appeal had came up with during that appeal,” Pastor Bethel said.
“These officers have always maintained that they were innocent, from day one until that appeal. Something went terribly wrong in the Magistrates Court and this should not have happened.”
The organization is again questioning how the magistrate could have allowed the husband and wife civilians, who were also charged in the case, to sit in on the case and then base her finding on a statement he gave after the charges against him and his wife were dropped.
“So we decided to hold a press (conference) to demand their reinstatement, to demand their compensation for all of their back pay immediately,” he said.
Bethel said it is the right thing to do and the officers still want to be a part of the organization because they recognize that it is the few bad apples on the force who were responsible for their current situation.
“Those few bad apples, we seek to have them uprooted from the Royal Bahamas Police Force. That is our mission,” the organization founder said.
“We’re not branding the entire police force. We still believe in the entire police force.”
He pointed out that the men did not get off by a technicality, rather the fact was that there was no case to begin with.
As a result, they were falsely accused and imprisoned.
“We are demanding that the minister of national security have these officers reinstated and compensated, put back to work and we’re also demanding justice for these officers because of what those other officers out there did,” he said.
Pastor Bethel is insisting that someone be held accountable for what has been done and revealed that the organization is proceeding with several actions, one of which will include the request to have the magistrate involved in the officers’ case be removed from Grand Bahama.
The Freeport News was unable to reach Commissioner Greenslade or ACP Seymour for comment.
By Lededra Marche
Freeport News Editor