State to compensate cop for false imprisonment

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PC Anand Dass –

A POLICE constable accused of removing a digital video recorder (DVR) from a shooting and robbery scene in 2017 will receive compensation from the State.

Justice Margaret Mohammed ordered compensation for PC Anand Dass of $75,000 for the three days he spent in custody before he was released without charge.

The payment is to include interest of 2.5 per cent from May 18, 2018 to the present and the State will also pay Dass’s costs of $20,011.30.

In her decision, Mohammed said, “It is a serious allegation that a police officer has misbehaved in public office. It is even more serious when a police officer is arrested for the offence of misbehaviour in public office.”

Mohammed also said the onus was on the police to establish they had reasonable and probable cause to arrest and detain their colleague.

As she analysed the evidence of Dass’s witnesses – two of his colleagues who went with him to the scene – and four for the police, including PC Joefield, the arresting officer, Mohammed said a reasonable person in possession of objective facts would not have formed the genuine suspicion that Dass had committed any offence.

Crucial CCTV footage evidence would have been material at least to confirm Dass’s movements on the day.

In awarding him damages, Mohammed said the sole aggravating factor of his 75-hour detention was the condition of the cell he was kept in at the Belmont Police station.

According to the allegations against Dass, on August 12, 2017, who was assigned to the North Eastern Division Task Force (NEDTF), was on duty when he got a call about a robbery at the Ming Wang Chinese restaurant at Aranguez Main Road. He and other officers went there, and saw someone lying in the road with a gunshot wound.

Some time later, as Dass was on his way to the Erin district for a police exercise, ASP Ramkhelawan accused him in a phone call of being connected with the removal of a DVR from the scene.

He immediately denied the allegation and said he knew nothing about any missing DVR, nor had he removed one from the restaurant.

He was told to go immediately to the Arouca police station, where he was told to give a report by the next day about the robbery at the restaurant, and did so. He was questioned by Joefield and two other officers and told he was a suspect in an investigation, as he had allegedly been seen walking out of the restaurant with a man who had a backpack containing a squareish object resembling the DVR.

He was arrested on August 13, taken to the Morvant, Central and then Belmont police stations. He was eventually released on August 16 and no charges were laid against him.

Mohammed refused to award him exemplary damages because she was not convinced that Joefield’s actions were oppressive, as Dass was told of his rights and privileges when he was arrested, was allowed to communicate with his attorneys and his family were able to bring him food and a change of clothing.

Dass was represented by attorneys Jared Jagroo and Alana Rambaran. Niquelle Nelson Granville and Laura Persad represented the State.

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