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You are here: Islands Islands News National Detectives investigate beating of undocumented man

National Detectives investigate beating of undocumented man

~ Man says officers threatened to shoot him ~

PHILIPSBURG--Justice Minister Dennis Richardson said an independent investigation by the National Detective Service has been ordered into the alleged beating of an undocumented immigrant, who was caught after a chase in an immigration raid on Thursday evening.

When asked for a comment on the matter, Richardson told The Daily Herald that he is unable to comment at this stage given the investigation. It could not be ascertained whether the officer has been or will be placed on inactive duty during the course of the investigation.

The undocumented immigrant, a Jamaican national with the initials G.P., told this newspaper on Friday that a young immigration officer who appeared to be in his twenties repeatedly punched him in the head. The undocumented immigrant said he had fallen, was injured and couldn’t move at the time he was beaten. The officer allegedly punched the man until another officer came up and urged him to stop.

P., who said he has been living in St. Maarten for more than a decade, and has a stepchild and four children born on the island, said he is a hard-working man, who holds two jobs to feed his family, who are dependent on his financial and emotional care. His young children are aged six, four, three and one and his stepchild turns nine years old today, Saturday.

 

Panicked

The 29-year-old man said he had just finished working at one of his two jobs and had been standing with a friend having a discussion in the parking lot of Tropicana Casino around 7:00pm on Thursday evening, when a Coast Guard vehicle stopped and immigration officers began approaching him. The man said since he did not have any valid papers, he panicked and decided to run.

The man said a throng of officers, whom he believes were from Customs, Immigration and police, began to pursue him. He said he plunged into the Simpson Bay Lagoon and began to swim away. He said at one point officers told him they will shoot him if he didn’t stop. He said he yelled out that he had done nothing wrong, other than not having valid legal documentation for the island.

While in the lagoon, the man said an officer told him that if he had to take off his clothing to swim in the lagoon to catch him, he would regret it. The man said he was fearful of the threats and what the officers would do to him if they caught him and decided to continue fleeing. He said he came out of the lagoon and “hid in the bushes” nearby.

Officers were shining lights into the bushes and started to throw large rocks into the bushes hoping that he would make a sound if he was hit. He said rocks did hit him, but he did not make any sounds out of fear of being caught. He said he ran atop the roof of a nearby car rental and went onto the roof of Tropicana Casino, where he fell and hurt his ribs.

It was at this point that the man said the young immigration officer caught up with him and started pelting punches at him. The man said he attempted to move, but he couldn’t. “I thought my ribs were broken,” he said.

The man said although he was in severe pain, he was handcuffed and placed on a stretcher to be taken to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). He said he begged the officers not to handcuff him since this made the pain more excruciating, but they refused to do so. He was taken to SMMC and checked.

It was only at SMMC that a senior immigration officer ordered the young officers there to remove the handcuffs. The immigrant said he later went to seek medical attention in French St. Martin. The man said he was asked to report to the immigration yesterday, Friday, but he said fear still gripped him. He is worried about his young children and who would feed and clothe them if he is deported.

The man said he plans to press charges against the officer that hit him. He said the officer in question is familiar with him and knew that he did not have valid residency papers for the island. He believes this is why he was specifically targeted. He said the immigration officer lives not too far from where he resides.

Up to the time when the man spoke to this newspaper, his feet were swollen and he was suffering from headaches. He said the police took his expired passport.

 

Duped

P. said he feels duped since he had applied for papers for the island under the Brooks Tower Accord, and had actually received a working permit, but his residence permit was denied on the grounds that something had been missing from his file. He returned to the Immigration Department earlier this year to enquire about his papers and he was told that his request was outdated and that he had to leave the island.

He is, however, fearful that his children will suffer and be left in the cold if he is not there to provide for them as he currently works two jobs to care for his family: construction in the day and in a kitchen at night.

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