Teen to sue state for burns at police station
PORT OF SPAIN –– The teenager who claims he was burnt about his body by police officers while in custody at the Princes Town Police Station intends to sue the state.
Jamerson John, 18, is set to begin civil action following his allegation that on Christmas Eve last year, officers stripped him to his underpants, doused him with methylated spirits and set him alight after he refused to confess to robbing two people and breaking into a house near his Moruga home. John was hospitalized for burns to his torso, leg and genital area.
Police have disputed his allegation, saying John had used methylated spirits on a wound and spilt the liquid on his clothing before he was arrested by police. Officers said when John was taken into custody, he walked past scented candles at the Princes Town Police Station and his clothes caught fire.
John, in company with his mother Sherma Atwater, have retained attorney Petronilla Basdeo, who is to begin the civil action.
A letter is soon to be sent to the acting commissioner of police.
In the past, The Express was told seven officers were being investigated and, in April, investigators of the Professional Standards Bureau received instructions from Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard to place the officers on identification parades. Atwater yesterday said these identification parades were yet to be done.
The Police Complaints Authority called for a copy of the police investigation file in the matter, including reports on John’s clothing and the scented candles. The authority submitted a file to Gaspard last February. The Express was told analysis at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, on John’s clothing showed there was no evidence of chemicals or burning.
Atwater yesterday said her son still experienced pain from the burns and was unable to work. She also said following the incident she and her family had had to leave their home after constant visits by the police.
The breaking and entering and robbery charges which John is facing with two teenagers are pending before the Princes Town Court. (The Express)