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Police Custody Deaths Raising Questions

Chiquita Rolle shows a photo of her brother Aaron Rolle who was found dead in his cell while in police custody. AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

A pathologist has determined that blunt force trauma to the torso caused 20-year-old Aaron Rolle’s death in police custody last month. He had a ruptured intestine and hemorrhaging, according to his death certificate.

Rolle died at the Southern Police Station on February 9, three days after being arrested in connection with an armed robbery. He died within 24 hours of Jamie Smith – the 35-year-old man who died of asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, at the Central Detective Unit (CDU) on February 8 while in police custody.

Families of both men have confirmed that the men were in good health when they were arrested.

Six officers — four from CDU and two from the Southern Police Station — have been placed on paid leave.

The custody deaths have led human rights group Amnesty International to call for independent investigations into police-related deaths.

According to Javier Zuniga, special advisor at Amnesty International, “Authorities in The Bahamas should seriously consider the establishment of an independent body to investigate police abuses and provide such an institution with sufficient resources.

“This would ensure not only greater efficiency in the investigations but would also help restore public confidence in the police force.”

In addressing the House of Assembley, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage referred to Rolle and Smith as “victims”.


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