Police charge protesting bus driver
A bus driver who said he fell victim to police brutality and would seek redress from the court will soon get his day in court but to answer charges brought against him by the police.
Three months following protest action by some bus drivers in Dominica, the police have laid four charges against Esrome "Hessy" George who will appear before the Roseau Magistrate court to enter a plea in the matters later this month.
According to the complaint of the police filed on July 15, it is alleged that on April 12, 2021, at Canefield, George assaulted Malcolm Williams, a member of the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force (CDPF) while in the execution of his duty.
George is also accused of committing battery against the office, obstructing and resisting arrest.
The charge follows an incident that occurred on the morning of April 12, 2021, as several bus drivers mainly from the west coast gathered in Massacre and embarked on a "go-slow" protest action moving at 1 km/h which resulted in a traffic jam stretching in a northerly direction all the way to Jimmit.
At some point in the morning, the bus operators parked their vehicles in the centre of the road in Canefield near Auto Trade, blocking access to both the north and south of the island.
Refusing to ply their regular route and leaving large numbers of commuters stranded, they insisted the reason for their action was to force the government to provide "much-needed assistance" because of the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and a rise in the price of fuel.
At some point during the protest, there was a clash between the Police and the protesters, and George was later seen being carried away.
According to the bus driver, during the protest, a police officer was arguing with another bus driver over a key to have the bus removed from the road.
"In passing, I saw one officer about to fall so I grabbed him and he thought I was in trouble with him so he turned and gave me a cuff several times," George said.
George stated that his brother who is also an officer tried to deescalate the situation; however, the lawmen continued with their attack.
He said he was beaten, kicked, choked, and pinned to the ground with an officer's knee on his neck for several minutes whilst others attempted to "wrongfully" arrest him.
"Police officers are people I help and people I have assisted on several occasions and I cried about this because I'm asking myself what I do to the officers for them to have me in that state. To make matters worse, whilst I was down an officer gave me a kick like I'm a dog", he said.
Following the incident, his brother and another civilian transported him to the hospital.
Many people have publicly condemned the action of the police to include Attorney-at-Law, Singoalla Blomqvist-Williams.
According to the attorney, the duty of the police is to protect the citizenry and therefore they should not abuse their power.
She noted that any protest action held within the ambit of the law cannot be deemed unlawful hence, "the police cannot use excessive force and kick a protester who is unarmed".
George will appear before the Magistrate Court on July 30, 2021.