Three prisoners are each set to receive a little over $130,000 in compensation over a beating they suffered at the hands of a group of prison officers at the Port-of-Spain State Prison in 2018.
Darren Romeo, Kernell Rausseau and Shaquille Rogers sued the State for assault and battery after they were beaten on January 23, 2018.
The Office of the Attorney General accepted liability in the trio’s cases and the compensation owed to them was assessed by Master Martha Alexander during a virtual hearing yesterday.
Rogers’ former cellmate Gregory Goodridge was also beaten during the incident and filed a similar lawsuit.
However, his case was adjourned pending a settlement with the State.
According to the evidence in the case, the men claimed they were in their cells when they saw a group of prison officers in riot gear marching through the corridor.
While the officers were allowing a group of inmates to exit their cell, one of them (the officers) reportedly slapped an inmate. The action caused a loud outburst of shouting from fellow prisoners.
The officers left the area but returned a short while later.
The men claimed that although they were not involved in the previous incident, the officers fired tear gas into their cells and began beating them.
“I did not understand what was going on and I had no idea what had happened. I was very frightened what would happen to me and the other inmates,” Rogers said in his witness statement.
The men claimed they were removed from their cells and taken to another area of the prison, where the beatings continued.
“When I fall, I continue to get licks. It never stop,” Rausseau said in his witness statement.
“I get up again and continue to run and I continue to get licks from the officers who was lining either side of the corridor,” Rausseau added.
Romeo testified that his beating was captured by another inmate on a cellphone and shared on social media.
“Soon after the beating, there was a video on social media showing an inmate being beaten while lying face down with his hands tied behind his back…I am sure it was me on the ground,” Romeo said.
All three men claimed that although they were bleeding and clearly in pain, the officers left them restrained and took a while before carrying them for medical treatment. They claimed the matter was never investigated, as they were never interviewed.
“I expected that there would be some type of investigation of this incident to hold accountable the officers who were responsible for this unlawful action that was carried out resulting in injuries to me and other inmates,” Romeo said.
In assessing the compensation, Master Alexander ordered $85,000 in general damages and $45,000 in exemplary damages.
She ordered that they be paid interest at a rate of two and a half per cent from between when the case was filed in 2019 to when liability was accepted.
The State was also ordered to pay the trio’s legal costs for bringing the lawsuit.
They were represented by Gerald Ramdeen and Darryl Herralal, while Rachael Thurab, Adana Hosing and Michelle Benjamin represented the State.