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Group pushes for charges after custody death ruling

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: May 21, 2013

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A human rights group has called for two police officers to be tried in relation to the custody death of Aaron Rolle.

Attorney Elsworth Johnson, president of the advocacy group Bahamas Human Rights Network (BHRN), said criminal charges before the Supreme Court were the “lawful and reasonable progression” after a coroner’s jury found that Rolle was unlawfully killed.

Rolle, 20, died on February 9 from a ruptured intestine caused by blunt force trauma to the abdomen.

He was arrested on February 7 on allegations of armed robbery and escape.

According to testimony at the inquest, Constables 2126 Akiel Smith and 2468 Carl Smith said they had to forcibly restrain Rolle when he tried to escape through a second floor window at the station.

Their claims that Rolle was fine when he was returned to the cell is in direct conflict with the evidence of Cordero Munroe, who was also in the lock up at the station for a different matter. Munroe said that Rolle said he was feeling ill and that the officers had beaten him badly.

Johnson said, “It is important for this case to be tried in the public’s interest, as it involves matters of great public importance.

“BHRN has observed that there have been a number of suspicious deaths of persons while in police custody, which in some instances has resulted in public unrest.

“Public confidence has been slightly eroded in the police and in their ability to adhere to the principles that all life is sacred, and that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The officers were placed on administrative leave immediately following Rolle’s death.

Deputy Commissioner Quinn McCartney told The Nassau Guardian that the officers’ status has not changed since the jury’s verdict on May 7.

He said the Office of the Attorney General would review the case and advise the commissioner of police if any action would be taken.

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