February 18, 2012
The blue wall of silence cracked yesterday when a police officer testified against his colleagues who are accused of the death of a suspect. Corporal Donavan Gardiner is charged with manslaughter in the January 19, 2008 death of Desmond Key and Constable Tavares Bowleg is accused of aiding and abetting him in the commission of the crime. The Crown alleges that Key died from injuries sustained during a beating by Gardiner in the lockup at the Grove Police Station hours after his arrest for alleged fraudulent use of a license disc, disorderly behavior, obscene language and resisting arrest around 9 p.m. on June 17, 2007. Police Constable 2765 Kevin Roberts told a Supreme Court jury that Key was aggressive and uncooperative when he was arrested at the junction of Baillou Hill and Robinson Roads. Roberts said Key, who appeared drunk to him, did not put up any resistance once at the station, but he continued to swear. Roberts said he went upstairs to take a break and returned downstairs when ordered to by Gardiner. Roberts alleged that he heard shouting in the cell block area and he went to investigate. That's when Roberts claimed that he saw Gardiner in the cell with a brown baseball bat that had been confiscated as an exhibit in his hand. Roberts said Bowleg was standing by the cell door. In contrast to his aggressive behavior at the time of his arrest, Roberts said Key was submissive while in the cell. Roberts recounted an exchange that suggested that Key had threatened Gardiner. Roberts alleged hearing Gardiner ask Key, "Who you gonna follow home? Who daughter you going to rape?" before he struck him on the left side with the bat. Roberts said that Gardiner asked Key, "Who you gonna shoot in the head and who's brains you gonna watch bounce?" before he hit him in the head with the bat. Roberts told prosecutor Linda Evans that Key did not attempt to fight back.He alleged that Bowleg told him, "I don't know why Gardiner hit that man in the head with the bat." Roberts said he asked Key how he was doing. He said Key coughed blood into his hands before he sat in the corner on the concrete platform. He recalled Gardiner saying, "I just want them to charge him (Key) so we could get him out of here." Roberts said he was hesitant to write a report about the events of that night and only did so when two sergeants visited him at his home and told him to. Roberts told the prosecutor that he got along well with the accused officers and considered them "almost like family". The case continues on Monday when Roberts will be cross-examined by defense lawyers Wayne Munroe and Ian Cargill.
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