A suspended police officer who was kept seven days in police custody, released and then charged three months later is suing the state for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.
Insp Rajesh Gokool who has 27 years service and was last attached to the Chaguanas Police Station filed the lawsuit electronically through his attorney Kevin Ratiram.
The lawsuit has to do with his detention in March by the Professional Standard Bureau (PSB) in relation to a report which led to him being charged in June with conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice.
Prior to this, however, Gokool was also charged with unrelated offences stemming from child trafficking allegations. According to the statement of case, on March 2 Gokool was at his La Romaine home with his wife and three children, ages 18, 16 and four, around 4-4.30 am when he was awoken by the police.
Among the officers was Ag Cpl Marcano of the PSB who informed him that they were investigating a report concerning a DVR which had been seized from the premises of a man at Carapichaima and has since gone missing.
It was alleged that Gokool removed the DVR and later submitted a wrong DVR to the Cybercrime Unit with intent to conceal evidence. He claimed Marcano told him he was being arrested for the purpose of being interviewed.
Gokool informed the officers that two weeks before he was arrested, kept in custody for six days, charged, and only released on bail on February 27. Despite his objections, Gokool claimed Marcano told him he would be in custody no longer than two days, and during that time he would be interviewed and instructions sought from the DPP. Gokool also claimed Marcano apologised to him and said he was only following instructions.
According to the court document, Gokool was arrested in full view of his neighbours and family, including his youngest child who was crying. He was placed in a cell at the Maloney Police Station where he began experiencing shortness of breath.
He was then moved to the Pinto Police Station and placed in a room. The following day he was interviewed by Cpl Marcano and Cpl Bissessar, and the next day on March 4 he was informed that as a result of new information he was being further detained. He asked to be released pending further investigations, but the police refused. On the night of March 5, he was informed that he would be placed on an identification parade.
The following morning he was moved to the La Horquetta Police Station and placed in an enclosed room. Gokool, according to the court document, did not understand why a parade was necessary since he admitted during the interview with the police that he was on the scene where the DVR was initially removed. Later that evening, he was told that the identification parade would take place the following day March 7.
On that day the police told him that they were unable to get persons to form the line-up for the parade so he was being taken to Trinity Mall to do a group identification. He was taken to the mall where he was identified by two of the three witnesses. He was taken back to the La Horquetta station where he was informed that the DPP would have to see the statements from the witnesses who participated in the group identification before a decision was made.
Later that night, he was taken to the Besson Street Police Station where he was placed in a room. The following day around 3 pm he began experiencing shortness of breath, chest pains, and numbness in his legs. Gokool was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was examined and told that he was suffering from anxiety. He was prescribed valium. Gokool was returned to the Besson Street station and that night his attorney applied for a writ of habeas corpus.
The following day, on Monday, March 9, he was taken to the Hall of Justice for the hearing and the judge instructed that Gokool be released by 7 pm if he was not charged by then. At 6.20 pm he was released from custody on the advice of the DPP. According to the statement of case, Gokool suffered extreme trauma, distress, humiliation and embarrassment due to his arrest and detention. During his time in custody, he claimed he suffered a loss of appetite, had great difficulty sleeping, and often experienced nightmares. “Assuming, but not admitting that they did have a report against him, there was no justification to arrest him.
The police ought to have requested he voluntarily subject himself for an interview, either at his home or at a police station and/or ID parade,” the court document stated. Gokool also took issue with the unreasonable delays in the interview and instructions for the identification parade. As a result of his arrest, Gokool claimed he suffered loss and damage and was put in expense.