Man found guilty of assault and intimidation, claims he was brutalized by police

A 29-year-old man charged with intimidation, assault, battery and resisting arrest told the magistrate’s court yesterday that police officers had tied his mouth, handcuffed his hand and feet and locked him up in a deep fridge.

José Melford claimed that when police officers of the Drug Squad Unit arrested him on August 09, 2004 at the River Bank they did not inform him of his offence and began brutalizing him.

“I saw several police officers run up on me and start to brutalize me. I was trying to ask them for what reason they came to arrest me or brutalize me like that. I did not get a response,” Melford told Chief Magistrate Evelina Baptiste.

According to Melford, he received so much blows he reacted by defending himself. Subsequently, he was taken to the Drug Squad Office where he accused officers of beating him.

“They tie my mouth, they handcuff my foot to a big pound weight, then they start to take long run and with their big boots kick me all in my chest, take their baton and start to brutalize me, cuff me all in my face, and hit me with the baton across my chest,” Melford said.

The young man recalled the police officers yelling expletives at him.

He also alleged that he was locked in a functioning refrigerator for about 10 minutes at the Drug Squad Office. “They closed me in it. After they took me from that deep fridge I was feeling sick and they brought me to the hospital,” Melford said while under oath on the witness stand at Magistrates’ Court.

However, female Police Constable Merlyn Maxime and Constable Francis who dealt with Melford’s matter that day denied that ever happened.

According to the facts of the case, on August 9, 2004 Constable Maxime, Francis, along with other officers, was on foot patrol when she noticed Belford on the northern River Bank putting something in a black backpack. On suspicion, she approached the defendant, introduced herself as a police officer in plain clothes, and asked to carry out a search on his bag.

“The defendant then replied which bag and began walking away. I then hold the defendant by his t-shirt; he pulled himself away from me and lift up his shirt. He then pulled out a cutlass and began looking at me fiercely,” she explained during her testimony.

Maxime said she was afraid for her life. Subsequently, the defendant took off.

On another occasion on August 19, 2004 about 11:45 a.m. Maxime said she was on patrol again at River Bank when she saw Constable Isles M. running after Belford. She began chasing after the defendant as well, but she noticed him running towards her. “I then grabbed the defendant in his t-shirt… the defendant then slapped me on the right side of my face causing redness to the said eye,” the female police officer claimed.

At the Drug Squad Office, Constable Maxime said she informed Melford of his offence and he apologized. She also asked him for the cutlass she claimed he assaulted her with and he replied, “It lose.”

Under cross examination, when Melford asked Maxime to prove her injuries by show of a medical form, she said she had none. However, she said there was a witness she could call to speak on her behalf.

While Constable Francis in his testimony said the defendant was approached by his colleague on August 9, 2004 because he was suspected of carrying drugs, none was ever found in Melford’s possession.

“While Constable Maxime was searching you, you had a cutlass. I do not know if he had any drugs on him. While I was searching the other guy she was searching him,” the policeman noted.

The cutlass allegedly used was never retrieved.

Constable Francis said on the second occasion he did not see Melford raise his hand on Maxime. Maxime had also said she did not remember Francis being present on August 19 at the River Bank – the day Melford was arrested.

Melford denied being grabbed by his shirt and running away from Constable Maxime or leaving the area. He said the officers had fabricated everything, and he told the police prosecutor he did not understand their testimonies since they were not speaking the truth.

“They fabricate everything. I never slapped the officer. That’s unfair to slap a woman. I wouldn’t do that My Honour. I’ve never slapped Mrs. Maxime, I’ve never pulled any cutlass on Mrs. Maxime,” he stated.

Prior to meting out punishment on Melford, Baptiste told him that she believed everything the police officers said, informing him that she found him guilty of the offences.

“My Honour I don’t believe jail is the best solution for me. This matter has been pending for a while … I wouldn’t lie to you My Honour. Trust me I’m speaking the truth,” Melford pleaded.

Baptiste also scolded Melford for not having a medical paper to show he was taken to the hospital. He responded that he was not able to since the police brought him there that day. The magistrate told him that was no excuse.

On the charge of battery, Baptiste gave him a six-month jail term; for intimidation Melford received two months in prison to run consecutively; and for resisting arrest he will serve a three-month sentence to run concurrently. There was no separate charge for assault.

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  1. Jake
    January 26, 2010

    The police everywhere in the world like to brutalize people. Why should Dominican Republic be any different than, say Minneapolis, Minnesota USA where the police routinely terrorized the cities youth throughout the entire 20th century. There were more victims of police brutality than of actual crime in the 70s, 80s and 90s there.

  2. d/can
    January 25, 2010

    i believe what the man said cuz i have witnessed police brutality here myself. i ca believ dat sh….t!!! the law in dominica is so crooked. its like it was made for one set to follow and one set to break. POLICE OFFICERS IN DOMINICA NEED TO STOP THAT NONSENSE!!!! they should try to put themselves into people’s shoes n also think of their families. ever wonder y so many of them get attacked when they travel abroad? and the magistrates are so one sided, they always encourage people saying -“if you r in a dispute report the matter to the police or take the person to court- – ther are laws and punishments set in place instead of fighting and beating each other.” however it dont look like this applies to some police officers cuz they beat and fight people before taking them to the court or station. that needs to stop. god is not a police and there is no riteous for the wiked. all judges, magistrates and police need to ask themselves a question b4 punishing n casting judgement upon people. do unto others as u would like them do unto u. we do hav criminals here but we dont hav to be criminals when dealn with them cuz we jus make things worse. BE PROFESSIONALS

  3. HAPPY?
    January 24, 2010

    Some time last yr a woman police was stabbed at the bay front while she was on duty dressed in her uniform.
    On this occasion this guy took out a cutlass at this other police officer and it seem everyone is OK with that.
    Police brutality is wrong but if the officers don’t send out a strong message to the criminals out there, then every body will think that the police should not or does not have the right to stop and question or search anyone on suspicion any more.
    I think people don’t respect the police officers anymore and this is where the problem is.
    If we just show a little more respect to them i think there will be less police brutality.
    If i’m a cop and u pull a cutlass on me while in the execution of my duty, and even slapping me, then i think u should be given something to think about for a long long long long long long time. If i can’t do it all alone then “remember ‘m not alone”.

  4. d/can in j/a
    January 24, 2010

    i think he threatened the lady cop maybe even hit her for real. so they brought him down to the station and whupped dat azz.

    i’ve got a cousin who told me bout a cell in police HQ they brought him once and they all came in wit masks and beat the sh*t out of him.

    Then he told me bout another time they tied his legs to the police van, tied his arms to a tree and threatened to drive and ‘stretch’ him lol. Both times it was interrogation for crimes he admitted to me he was actually guilty off so he just took his blows, kept his mouth shut and eventually they had to release him.

    doesn’t happen to regular, law-abiding folk though and i feel no sympathy for criminals, even those who r my friends.

  5. truth
    January 23, 2010

    that s always the case thats why u have to spend some money and put them like dogs on the road they make the law and they break it. u think they would beat an astaphan child like to the george the both stories was linient i didnt see where u had to choose any side but should dismiss that case cause nothing was found in the defendent possession but again charity begins at home

  6. YoKaSav
    January 23, 2010

    They did it self…is their habit to brutalize people and then tell them “take me to court”.. cause they know they will come and LIE and get the support of the “system” but doh worry they will find out!…..Playing all high and mighty…their time draweth near!

  7. Jayson
    January 23, 2010

    My main concern with this case is that the defendant had no one to defend him.

    Anybody that walks into a court in Dominica with charges against him without a lawyer is as good as guilty even before he steps in the door.

    The people need to put preasure on their parlimentary representatives to bring this issue to the forefront. We need a team of public defendants that the court can assign to deffendants to those who request it.

    The way things are right now is almost like ‘ NO MONEY, NO JUSTICE!’

  8. 'Iron' Mike Tyson
    January 23, 2010

    Hey I don’t support police brutality but guess what? The Police do not target law abiding citizens who are going about their normal daily duties trying to earn an honest dollar. As ‘Just a Thought’ said these guys should try doing some honest work and I can see value in the point that ‘Former Woman Police Constable’ makes when she says that it would be rather odd and unreasonable that the police force would have a well functioning freezer EMPTY, just to torture people in. Thats a laugh.

  9. Former Woman Police Constable
    January 23, 2010

    To begin with Drug Squad don’t even have a deep freeze and even if it were so, do you think it would be there empty waiting for the opportunity to be used as a torture device on an alleged criminal?
    Come one ppl… use your head.

  10. January 22, 2010

    Two wrongs cann’t make a Right.
    Apparently, the Cops beat up the guy and tried to cover up.
    But again the Cops don’t stay so and beat you up, you watch for it , you will get it.

  11. just looking
    January 22, 2010

    This is just a set of lies. He is a smooth talker and laughed after the sentence. He told the court he was locked in a deep freezer for about fifteen minutes and came out ok. Please any one of you try that . You would all be dead. One other thing is it not very strange for the polic eto just beat you for no reason.

  12. texan
    January 22, 2010

    i believer 100% with the the defendent said. those police back home are so wicked they know how to cover up there crimes. it is time that something be done with police brutallity. even thou the person may have their faults but god they are humans and not animals i would not even treat an animal like that. dno i think u all should send out a message to the police out there . i no they are there to protect but god!!!!!!!. somebody needs to take some action make an eg.

  13. Interesting
    January 22, 2010

    according to the story, he was taken to the hospital. is there any record of his visit to the hospital? the guy did not have a lawyer to represent him to ask the hospital for that record. Have any one of you heard of human rights, no matter what the guy did no police have the right to beat up any one. they should restrain you, not beat you. them times when police can just abuse people done. proper laws we need in dominica to stop them kind of vibes…

  14. Mentally Disturbed
    January 22, 2010

    @Just a thought
    You always have good thoughts, but supporting police brutality is just an idiotic thought. It is thoughts like these that increase crime towards police. A cop gets paid to uphold the law, criminal or not, if the guy don’t assault you then arrest the guy and done. You can’t support .. because it comes from the lawful side of the law.
    You ever wonder what happen to a guy when he gone mental on cops, he’s not mentally disturbed, na, maybe it’s “just a thought” of revenge.

  15. January 22, 2010

    police in d.a. will know,when the people get tired things will happen.treat people with respect,i believe man 10000,0000.00 percent.equal rights and justice.

  16. just a thought
    January 22, 2010

    If they Brutalized you, I’m glad you came out and said so so others will know that you’re path was a dumb one. ALL criminals once caught red handed doing illegal activity such as drug dealing trafficing gun possession should be brutalized then sentenced to the fullest extent of the law…. Why not plant two dasheen and yam and sell in the market…

  17. January 22, 2010

    You never win these cops.Things always go there way.They drink on duty and can never get fired once they remove there hat when drinking.How will they remember if they beat the guy.The bro might be guilty but i do feel he get a beating from them guys.

  18. abroad
    January 22, 2010

    Where is your proof that you were beaten by the officers. Should have gotten a medical report. They are not going to buy your story of police brutally.

  19. Rosalie
    January 22, 2010

    I believe the police did what the guy said they did. When I lived in dominica years ago, that was the norm.

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