A magistrate who spent more than 20 years as a police officer says he will not tolerate police brutality and would dismiss matters in which there is evidence of police excesses.
John Ballah, stated his position at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, on Thursday, as he presided over a case in which Chauncey resident, Carl Quow, 22, pleaded guilty to possession of 4.5 gramme of cocaine in his community one day earlier.
In mitigation, Quow’s lawyer, Carl Williams, told the court that it was disturbing the way that police officers “keep beating and injuring people in custody.
“I would say that this must stop but the police should know that this will have legal consequences and apart from legal consequences, it may trigger vigilante action,” Williams said.
After handing down an EC$800 fine on Quow, Ballah, addressing Williams, said:
“I will make it clear to all police officers that this court will not condone any sort of police brutality meted out to any member of the public.
“And if police action … is highlighted in any matter that is before this court where police brutality is meted out to any member of the public who is a defendant and this court has to dismiss the matter because of that, that will happen.”
Ballah said that he spoke out against police brutality when he was a police officer and would not condone it as a magistrate.
Ballah rose to the rank of assistant superintendent of police before resigning from the force earlier this year ahead of being appointed as a magistrate.
“I love our Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force. I served there and because of the organisation, I am better for it. And I hope that members there realise how blessed they are to be in the service of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and give their best,” the magistrate said.
“So, while I sit here, I will ensure that every police officer who comes before my court gives the best possible service to the people we serve.”
He told Williams that if Quow suffered injuries he should report the matter to the Police Public Relations and Complaints Department.
“I know the recently promoted Superintendent of Police Simmons is a diligent officer and would ensure that the wheels of justice are in motion. Other than that, if a civil suit can be brought, bring the civil suit. I will deal with it,” Ballah said.