By RHONDOR DOWLAT Saturday, January 9 2010
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Get in!: Dillion Fraser is held by his neck and forced into an unmarked police car after refusing to hand over his cellphone on the Priority Bus Route...
His arrest by police officers on Thursday was a nightmare for 17-year-old Dillon Fraser, a student of St Augustine Secondary School.
Fraser said he felt sore yesterday after being manhandled by two transit police officers, who shoved him into an unmarked vehicle. One of the officers held Fraser around his neck as he pushed him into the car, as the teenager struggled to get out.
“I am experiencing a lot of pain in my body. I cannot move my neck, shoulder and waist. I was beaten with a gun butt. I am still trying to get over the incident,” Fraser told Newsday.
Fraser’s father, Daniel, who retired from the Police Service four years ago, gave official statements about the incident to the officers of the Tunapuna Police Station yesterday.
On Thursday, shortly after 3 pm, Fraser was standing on the Priority Bus Route, near the pedestrian crossing lights at, UWI, St Augustine where he took out his cell phone and began video-taping two uniformed transit police officers who stopped their unmarked car in front of a 24-seater maxi taxi.
The officers went into the maxi taxi and confronted a man who wore an orange jersey.
Eyewitnesses said one officer struggled with the man as he dragged him out of the maxi. When they got out, the second officer pulled out his gun and fired two shots.
Fraser was video taping the incident, when one of the officers saw him.
The officer approached Fraser and demanded he hand over his phone. Fraser refused and the officer grabbed him by the neck and hit him with a gun butt. During this time, the other officer arrested the man from the maxi taxi, placed him in the back seat of the car, and went to help the other officer restrain Fraser. They both struck the teenager.
“Stop beating me, leave me alone. Stop choking me, I can’t breathe,” Fraser cried.
Eyewitnesses shouted at the officers demanding they leave the schoolboy alone.
However, Fraser was lifted up and carried to the car, where a third officer in plainclothes sat in the driver’s seat. He pulled Fraser while one of the two uniformed officers shoved the teenager into the front passenger seat. Fraser struggled to get out but he was put in a headlock and was subdued and taken to the St Joseph Police Station. He was detained for questioning but was released in the custody of his father at about 6 pm. Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert, in response to yesterday’s Newsday report on the incident, instructed Snr Supt Joseph Edwards of the Northern Division to investigate the matter. Edwards has since assigned Supt Samlal of the Tunapuna Police Station to conduct the probe.
Yesterday, attorney Gregory Delzin criticised the police for how they manhandled Fraser.
He said the officers acted in “an illegal manner.”
“The police have no authority to seize a person’s cellphone because they are video taping their actions.
Police only have criminal jurisdiction and the power to seize evidence of a crime and video taping a policeman in any action whether legal or illegal is not a crime.
Seizure of those items under those circumstances could amount to theft,” Delzin said.
Delzin also commended Fraser. “I think a young man like Dillon Fraser needs to be commended and the community needs to support young people like him, who have the courage to be video taping illegal conduct of any lawman, and it is the duty of the Police Service to ensure that persons who wish to be witnesses are encouraged and not intimidated by officers of the service.”