A female police officer from central Trinidad, who was detained by colleagues for accepting a bribe but later released without being charged, has been awarded over $130,000 in compensation.
High Court Judge Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered the compensation for WPC Leah Mitchell-Samuel after upholding her wrongful arrest and false imprisonment lawsuit against the State.
In her oral judgment, Quinlan-Williams ruled that the officers of the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB), who investigated Mitchell-Samuel, did not have reasonable or probable cause to arrest her, and hence her arrest and detention for almost two days was unlawful.
According to the evidence in the case, on June 4, 2015, Mitchell-Samuel and her colleagues were driving along Caroni Savannah Road, in Caroni when they stopped to issue a ticket to the driver of a car with an illegal tint.
While issuing the ticket, the driver’s pregnant front seat passenger, who was later identified as Elizabeth Edwards, allegedly cursed the officers.
Edwards was arrested, charged with using obscene language and was then granted station bail by a Justice of the Peace (JP).
She missed her court date and a warrant was issued for her arrest by the presiding magistrate.
Almost two months later, a PSB officer contacted Mitchell-Samuel while she was on duty and advised her to come home immediately.
When she arrived she was arrested in front of her neighbours.
Mitchell-Samuel was detained at police stations in Port-of-Spain for two days before being freed.
She claimed she was placed in a filthy cell, denied access to her attorney, food and water, and was ridiculed by some colleagues who also improperly recorded her while she participated in an identification parade.
She claimed that after spending several hours in custody she was informed that the officers were investigating a report from Edwards that she paid Mitchell-Samuel a $1,500 bribe to assist in securing bail.
In the lawsuit, Mitchell-Samuel claimed the officers failed to conduct proper investigation and were overly reliant on Edwards’ unsubstantiated claims.
Mitchell-Samuel’s colleagues, who were present at the time of Edwards’ arrest testified on her behalf in the case.
Mitchell-Samuel was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Che Dindial and Robert Abdool-Mitchell.
Niquelle Nelson-Grandville, Candice Alexander, and Laura Persad represented the State