Eric Lewis, fondly known as the Merikin Prince of Moruga is threatening to sue the T&T Municipal Police for wrongful imprisonment and assault.
Lewis, of Moruga, says he was ridiculed, assaulted, imprisoned and embarrassed after his car was wrecked around 4 pm on Monday at Circular Road, San Fernando.
Lewis said he spent over 6 hours sitting in a cell at the municipal headquarters in Kings Wharf before he was slapped with three charges of disorderly behaviour, resisting arrest and obstructing an officer.
He was placed on $22,000 bail and has been summoned to appear before a San Fernando Magistrate in January.
Giving an account of the incident, Lewis said he went to do business at Ansa Merchant Bank and left his car parked on the roadside. When he returned he realized it was missing.
Surveillance footage showed that it was wrecked.
Lewis said he proceeded to the impound yard and saw his vehicle open.
“There were cheques and documents on the back seat that was strewn around and I asked whether I could secure the documents,” Lewis said.
While rummaging around, a man came up to him and started shouting to him to get out of the vehicle.
Lewis said the man was not dressed as police and he did not identify himself as an officer.
“I did not know if he was the police, a bandit, a thief. He did not say who he was, but he started shouting,” Lewis said. He said he told the man he was securing some important papers and the man snatched him by the neck and dragged him out.
Lewis suffered an abrasion to his neck.
Lewis said to his surprise, the man then got handcuffs and restrained him. He was then bundled into the back of a police jeep and taken to the musical office behind City Hall.
However, Lewis said an officer there told the man who arrested him that there was no space for a prisoner and he was then taken to the headquarters at Kings Wharf.
Lewis said when the officers asked him his occupation, he said curator but they did not know what that was. When he explained he owned two museums in Moruga they began laughing and ridiculing him.
Lewis said the officers then noticed that his neck was bleeding and they decided to take him to the San Fernando General Hospital.
“Name called, gave me my first Wedgy ever as he escorted me to the hospital even though I did not want to go. He said that people like “you need to think about the decision you make, before you make them” when I said, “I would rather not go to the hospital” although I could feel a burn at my neck and some pains going down my back from my neck, I thought to myself after leaving custody I would privately take care of myself, to protect my character. I refused to go, however, they forced me,” Lewis said.
While at the hospital, a nurse and a doctor recognized him.
Lewis said after being treated, he was taken back to the station where he was charged and placed on police bail.
Lewis said he has since lodged a report to the Police Complaints Authority. He also said he spoke to a senior officer who apologized on behalf of his subordinates.
Lewis said he planned to write to Minister of Local Government Kazim Hosein and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
Lewis is the curator of the two museums in Moruga and is the owner of the largest cultivated plantation estate in Moruga.
His estate is over 200 acres and he supplies the local and international market with plantain, cassava, pumpkin, cocoa, peppers, pimento, pawpaw, the famous Moruga scorpion pepper and numerous other crops and fruits.
Lewis has done extensive work at archaeological sites along the coastline of his hometown that were once Amerindian settlements.
Some of his discoveries are now on display at the museum.
These include a collection of historical items that chronicle Moruga’s pre-Colombian past and the arrival of European who began populating the area following the 1783 Cedula of Population.