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Dec 20, 2013

George Street resident receive first half of settlement in GSU brutality case

A little over a hundred thousand dollars has been paid out to residents of George Street who were savagely attacked by members of the Gang Suppression Unit over two years ago.  The compensation is the first of two installments, a settlement having been reached between government and the victims.  While the lump sum is being divided among all eighteen persons, one man says that the dollar amount being paid to him cannot make up for the pain he now has to endure for the remained of his life.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano revisits the ordeal in August 2011 and its conclusion this morning.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Allegations of police brutality, the excessive use of force in the execution of their sworn duties, have become routine in the daily news.  So, when a team of officers attached to the Gang Suppression Unit descended violently upon a group of civilians in August 2011, the story undoubtedly made headlines across the media.

 

George Street Resident [File: August 29th, 2011]

“Dehn beat up mi son dehn fi nothing because when di shooting happen my picni dehn mi deh right eena dis yaad right front ah me ya.”

 

Reporter

“Weh paat yo son deh now?”

 

George Street Resident

“Dehn ker dehn da station, all ah dehn.  Dehn beat dehn up.  One ah dehn buss up.  Dehn shot one ah dehn.”

 

Reporter

“One ah yoh son got shot?”

 

George Street Resident

“No, noh my son.  Wah next young man get shot, weh di police shot.”

 

Reporter

“How much people get shot out here tonight?”

 

George Street Resident

“I noh really know.”

 

It was a Friday evening in late August and mourners were returning from the funeral of Charles Woodye, a known affiliate of the George Street Gang, when GSU personnel suddenly came down on them like a ton of bricks.  The mayhem that erupted was not limited to members of the gang.  In fact anyone in the vicinity of George and Dean streets were subject to their cruelty, including popular carnival organizer Dorla Vaughn.

 

Dorla Vaughn

Dorla Vaughn [File: August 29th, 2011]

“When we listen we yer shot di fyah.  I staat to secure all di pickney dehn eena wah building yanda weh I di do my costume.  When di police dehn gwein round di lane one ah di GSU vehicle deliberately put ih hand through di window and shub something eena da building and one ah di lee gial face well messed up.  Everybody di choke and dehn eye di bun dehn.  We haffi di run fi wata.  [Dehn pass an dehn spray people with tear gas.]  One ah di lee gial, wah next one, di whole ah side ya geh burn, she di bleed she gaan home.”

 

Among them was Alpheus Smith.  He was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Alpheus Smith, Victim of Police Brutality

Alpheus Smith

“I am very, very disappointed with the police department because of what they did to us.  I mean that day when those guys beat us, I mean it was for no reason at all, absolutely none.  I was just doing a favor and doing the barbecue for the guys and the police they came in and they just started beating and beating people, I mean you can’t be doing things like that to people in this country.”

 

Suffering a broken arm during the melee was Zane Galvez.  He said he was only there to make a delivery.

 

Zane Galvez

Zane Galvez, Victim of Police Brutality

“As you hear the doors open you hear gunshot gone off, you know, like multiple gunshots.  People end up get shot with rubber bullets, you know, so I stormed back eena di house and I get low cause I neva know weh di happen, you know.  I mi very confused bout di whole situation.  So when I peep through di window I sih people di get tasered, people di get peppa sprayed and da mi mostly women and kids, you know weh ah mean, di outside.  We mih deh eena di house and afta dehn storm eena di house and dehn staat broke up everything, dehn continue taser people, you know, di lash people with clubs and then I jump pan di ground cause I neva wahn seem like, yo know, I mi di resist or I mi wahn put up wahn struggle eena any way.  So I deh pan my back pan di ground, both hands eena di air and I di tell di officer mein I noh know weh di happen.  I noh eena it, please just, yoh know, mek ah leave because I just di deliver wahn case ah Heineken.  And he stand up ova me fu wahn couple seconds di just watch me pan di ground and I noh know weh run through ih mind but ih still swing wahn baseball bat atta my head and I had to put my hand eena di way fu block di blow, dah how I end up di get the injuries to my elbow.”

 

That was a little over two years ago.  Since then legal action has been taken against the GSU and a settlement for estimated two hundred thousand dollars has been agreed upon by at least eighteen persons who came forward after the brutal assault.

 

Karim Musa

Karim Musa, Attorney for George Street Residents

“Today we saw a very positive end to a truly unfortunate incident, one that I believe ought never to have occurred in any civilized society.  I think that it was truly a tragic state of affairs.  It does not speak well for us as a country when you have the police officers taking matters into their own hands and infringing upon the rights of the citizens of the country.  So it’s a very positive end and yes we have received the first half of the final settlement with the government.”

 

The settlement, says Smith, does little to ease the physical discomfort he is now living with as a result of the ordeal.

 

Herbert Panton

Alpheus Smith

“To be truthful it’s nice to have the money, you know, but I know for a fact that I’m going to be in pain for the rest of my life because I am in pain every day. They kicked me in the rib here and stomped me in my back and whopped me in my head with a flashlight.”

 

The second half of the payment, according to attorney Herbert Panton, will be paid to the victims sometime in early 2014. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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