September 09, 2021
A STORY of terror and brutality filled a courtroom yesterday as Chavette Strachan recounted how police officers allegedly tortured her for a criminal confession at Eleuthera's Governor's Harbour Police Station in January, 2018.
Lawyers believe the case can shed light on one of the most concerning and persistent complaints about law enforcement in The Bahamas: that people are sometimes tortured to confess to crimes and those confessions are sometimes used to secure convictions.
Ms Strachan, Dale Gibson, Jr, and Kenton Fines were released from custody without charge after their arrest, but what happened to them in police custody is the subject of the trial before Supreme Court Justice Loren Klein.
The three were arrested while police investigated an armed robbery at the C and AA Service Station in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, which involved the shooting of Joel Stubbs, an employee of the station.
Fighting through tears, Ms Strachan said yesterday that after officers took her into custody, she was escorted into an office at the Governor’s Harbour Police Station where her horror began.
She said: “One of the officers, his question to me was, do I want to play a game. I said why. He said have I ever played hangman? He said you know what happens when you get the answer wrong, you hang yourself. I just was saying okay, but I still don’t understand why I’m here. They said I need to tell them what’s going on.”
“They placed my hand behind my back with a piece of paper between my skin and the cuff and he tightened the cuff around my hand. They escorted me to another room in the back…There were three officers standing at the door and two officers standing in the room with me at this time. I was standing in the middle of the room and Officer Newbold told me to lay down. I’m looking around like what do you mean to lay down. He started to get aggressive so I knelt down on my knees and I guess that wasn’t satisfying for him so he kicked me to the ground on my side as I was kneeling in front of him.”
“They kept asking me questions about who had the gun, what we were doing. The little small information they were giving was how I was actually trying to get a grip of what is happening because at this moment I realised I am fighting for my life and fighting for my freedom because they are telling me I’m facing 25 years and your friends they shot the guy and he’s dead. They said we going down either in a body bag or handcuff.
“At this time when I was on the ground he asked the other officer to get the hot sauce. I was laying on my back at this time. I kinda got afraid because the way I saw Kenton eye in the cell right before they took me out and he sort of mentioned what was happening as well…when they got the hot sauce, the other officer in the room poured a little bit of it between my eyes and I was just begging him please don’t, please don’t and they stopped. But they got out this plastic, fish bag and he pushed all of my hair into the bag and he had it rested on my forehead at the time and he said you are going to tell me what’s happening. I kept telling him how can you do this to a female, do you have a conscience? He said his conscience is dead. So he grabbed the bag and pulled it over my head.”
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