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Minibus operator files $35M lawsuit against State for wrongful arrest, imprisonment – News Room Guyana

An Industry, East Coast Demerara (ECD) minibus operator has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Guyana Police Force and by extension the State, for his unlawful detention and imprisonment in October 2023 in relation to a case of mistaken identity over monies owned for a battery.

Through his attorney, Dexter Todd, Richard Rodney, who was kept in custody for four days, is deeming the actions of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) as “unlawful.”

In a statement, Dexter Todd and Associates Law Firm said Rodney filed the legal action on January 3, 2024, seeking in excess of $35 million in compensation from the State for his unlawful arrest, detention and imprisonment without any “proper” investigating or “logical” cause.

According to the statement, Rodney was intercepted during a Police road block in the vicinity of Sugrim Singh Road, East Coast Demerara.

At the time, Rodney, who was driving his minibus, was told by the Policeman to “get out the vehicle” and was subsequently informed that an arrest warrant was issued for him for monies owned for a battery.

“Mr. Rodney was taken to the Sparendaam Police Station by the police officer who went into a room and brought out an arrest warrant for damage to property in which the defendant on that warrant was sentenced to six months in prison by the magistrate. Mr. Rodney indicated to the officer that he was not that person; neither does he live at the address stated on the warrant.

“He further showed the officer his driver’s license and indicated that they should do proper investigation to know who they are looking for as that person is not him,” the lawyer’s statement explained.

Rodney’s pleas fell on deaf ears and he was informed that he would be required to spend six months in prison.

“Mr. Rodney was arrested and later that evening taken to the Cove and John Police Station where he was placed in the lock-ups. The next morning Mr. Rodney’s hands and feet were shackled and he was subsequently taken to the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court where the issue of the battery was settled.

“However, Mr. Rodney was then taken to the Sparendaam Police Station where he was again shackled. He told the station Sergeant there that they have the wrong person but she refused to listen and even told him that he should serve his time and let his family fight his case after that. They further refused to call the complainant to verify if police had indeed arrested the right person,” the statement detailed.

As such, Rodney was escorted to the Lusignan prison to serve the sentence.

“Mr. Rodney told his story to multiple officers, including senior Prison Officer Mr. Charles, who did some investigation of his own and unearthed that indeed Mr. Rodney was who he said he was and not the person the police should have arrested,” the statement noted.

And after a series of back and forth, Rodney was released from Police custody on October 4, 2023.

This means that Rodney was released after spending four days behind bars.

“On Friday October 6, 2023 at about 7pm Mr. Rodney was collected from the prison and taken to the Brickdam Police Station by the police where he was made to give a statement and then subsequently handcuffed again and later placed in the lock ups of the Brickdam Police Station.

“On Saturday October 7, 2023 he was taken to the Criminal Investigation department office at the Brickdam Police Station then to the Lusignan prison then to the Brickdam Police Station again and thereafter back to the Lusignan prison with the correct person.

“At about 2pm on Saturday October 7, 2023 Mr. Rodney was taken by the police onto the Mon Repos Public Road, East Coast Demerara where he was then released from custody,” the statement explained.

The lawyer said all of this could have been avoided if a phone call was made to the virtual complainant in the matter or if the information provided by Rodney were verified.

“It was not until the prison service got involved that the truth of the story was unearthed and the Guyana Police Force realized they had imprisoned the wrong person,” the statement noted.

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