Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Female T&T Cop Suspended Over ‘Sexy’ Photo Wins Lawsuit

Trinidad Guardian:- A fe­male Spe­cial Re­serve Po­lice (SRP) has won her law­suit over her sus­pen­sion by for­mer po­lice com­mis­sion­er Stephen Williams, af­ter a provoca­tive pho­to­graph of her in uni­form was shared on so­cial me­dia two years ago.

De­liv­er­ing an oral judge­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day, High Court Judge Devin­dra Ram­per­sad ruled that Williams act­ed op­pres­sive­ly when he de­cid­ed to sus­pend Sophia Dun­can pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the is­sue. Ram­per­sad said Williams’ de­ci­sion was in breach of nat­ur­al jus­tice, as he did not give Dun­can an op­por­tu­ni­ty to de­fend her­self be­fore mak­ing it.

As part of the judge­ment, Ram­per­sad or­dered $30,000 in com­pen­sa­tion for Dun­can. He al­so di­rect­ed Williams’ suc­ces­sor, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith, to pro­vide her with the par­tic­u­lars of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by April 30 and to con­clude the in­ves­ti­ga­tion with­in a rea­son­able time.

While Dun­can re­ceived an or­der quash­ing the de­ci­sion, Ram­per­sad could not or­der that she be re­in­stat­ed as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still pend­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence pre­sent­ed in the case, on Au­gust 7, 2017, Dun­can, who was then as­signed to the Tran­sit Po­lice, first learned that a pho­to­graph of some­one re­sem­bling her was shared on so­cial me­dia. The pho­to­graph, which de­pict­ed a fe­male of­fi­cer in uni­form ly­ing on a couch with one leg raised, was then pub­lished by sev­er­al news­pa­pers. Two days lat­er, Dun­can re­ceived cor­re­spon­dence from Williams in­form­ing her that she was be­ing in­ves­ti­gat­ed for bring­ing the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) in­to dis­re­pute and that she should im­me­di­ate­ly cease her du­ties pend­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Dun­can’s lawyers, Christophe Ro­driguez and Ele­na Da Sil­va, wrote to Williams chal­leng­ing the de­ci­sion but were forced to file the law­suit af­ter they re­ceived no re­sponse. In the law­suit, the lawyers claimed Dun­can, who was six weeks preg­nant at the time, be­came de­pressed as a re­sult of the de­ci­sion.

“The stress brought on by the sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing a pic­ture de­pict­ing her on the front page of a na­tion­al news­pa­per in wide­spread pub­lic view and the con­se­quent sus­pen­sion from her job caused Dun­can to be­come very un­well and her preg­nan­cy was at risk,” they said in the law­suit.

Con­tact­ed yes­ter­day, how­ev­er, TTPS Head of Le­gal, Chris­t­ian Chan­dler, said Ram­per­sad’s judge­ment would be ap­pealed.

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