Family members of Oscar Bartholomew have started a petition, asking that the police officers involved in the alleged beating of the Grenadian-Canadian citizen be relieved of their duties pending the outcome of investigations.
Their call comes as it has been reported that the officers were still on-duty, even as Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who is also Minister for National Security has called for full-scale investigation into the matter.
Devon Rachae, a former parliamentarian and cousin and appointed spokesperson of Bartholomew says the family is concerned that there may not be transparency in the investigation.
Rachae told freelance reporters that they denied the wife who was on the scene at the time the opportunity to speak with or see her husband; and when after leaving him lying in a police cell, handcuffed, bleeding and unresponsive for approximately two hours prior to getting him medical attention, they didn’t allow her to travel in the ambulance with him to go to the hospital.
“We have a situation where some of the officers that were involved are not yet relieved of their duties and we are not sure that measures are in place to ensure that they do not leave the country,” Rachae said.
“We have the said police officers as free men while they are a danger to society, so we want to make a petition here beginning tonight and we will go nationally to call for the immediate relieving of these individuals from duty pending the investigation.”
Rachae is also calling for stricter legislation for police in dealing with instances of alleged police brutality.
“We have a situation where the police is investigating the police; there is no independent body that is involved in this and there are many members of the family who are wary of a very honest investigation, even
The family held a candle-light vigil outside the St. David police Station on Wednesday night, where it is alleged that Bartholomew, who was on a two-week Christmas vacation with his wife, was severely beaten by police for what they say was resisting arrest.
A police statement issued on Wednesday afternoon said they are investigating the “circumstances surrounding the arrest” and that the “investigation will be conducted in a very professional manner with an uncompromising desire to illicit the truth”.
The release also said that the investigation is being conducted in conjunction with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution”.
The report of a post mortem on Bartholomew’s body stated that he died from intra-cranial bleeding and trauma to the head.
Bartholomew’s mother Andrianna Bartholomew, was at Wednesday night’s vigil and was still visibly upset.
Between tears Andrianna told reporters “Me child is a loving child; he raise the lady. He said he thought it was a friend of his….and they beat him; they murder him.”
“He have his wife in the car, he have his friend with him, whey he go raise the girl and go and rape her,” she said.
“She bawl he rape her and she get them to kill him, but woe be on to her; she have to meet it. This is not the first person she do that to, but there will not be a third.”
Also at the vigil were persons who claim that in one way or another they were victims of police brutality specifically from officers attached to the police Station in St. David; and they want such conduct to stop.
Elizabeth Alexander said that her son Jeremy Alexander was also beaten by police last December for accepting a ride in an allegedly stolen vehicle.
“They took him to Bacolet beach, beat him, dip his head in a pool of dirty water for 15-minutes; dragged him. All his face was bruised, his hands were bruised, his belly…they refused to send him to the doctor,” a calm Alexander said.
Alexander added that when she sought to get information from the police as to the reason for detaining her son, they were reluctant to give her that information.
Liz, another mother said that in two separate but recent incidents, one on the 19th December and the other on 26th December, her two sons, Fidel and Nelson were brutally beaten by police officers and charged with resisting arrest.
She has been carrying around in her purse the names of four police officers she said brutalized her sons.
The matter is said to be still under investigation but Liz said she joined the vigil because she wants justice not only for Bartholomew but also for her sons.
“I looking for justice because they were kicked by the police officer and badly beaten,” she said.
A media briefing would be hosted by Lawyer for Bartholomew’s family, Derick Sylvester on Thursday to indicate what legal recourse is being planned in this matter.