Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Guyana: Attorney apologises for ‘colourful scolding’ of cop

Guyana Chronicle:-  AMIDST vibrant social media debate on his conduct, Attorney-at-law Ryan Crawford took to the platform on Sunday to apologise for his use of “colourful expletives” against a traffic rank on Thursday.

On September 13, 2018, Crawford was travelling along the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) Public Road, when he was stopped for a routine check of his driver’s documents by a rank on duty.

This did not sit well with the lawman as a video recorded by the traffic rank, soon surfaced on social media showing Crawford verbally abusing the officer while seated in his car.
In the some four minutes of his profanity-laced rant, Crawford repeatedly asked the policeman why he was stopped and made it clear that he was not going to comply when asked to produce his driver’s licence.

He was also asked to wind up his windows for a test of the tint level on his vehicle, but refused to do so unless he was given a legitimate reason by the rank as to why he was pulled over.

In his defiance, the lawyer stated: “you can go and tell each and every one of the commanders, the President and the Vice-President, you go and tell whoever you want…”
In a terse statement on Thursday evening, the police indicated that Commander of “C” Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Brutus has caused an investigation to commence in respect to the incident.

Then on Saturday, the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Guyana, though imploring its members to uphold the noble profession, fell short of publicly reprimanding its member.
“We trust that the said investigation will include the circumstances surrounding the recording, publication and sharing of the video,” the Bar Council stated, even as it outlined the legal grounds upon which a motorist can be stopped by a uniformed police officer.
However, on Sunday on the Guyana Chronicle Facebook page beneath a related news article, Crawford apologised for his choice of words, now a viral video on the platform.
“On September 13th, 2018, I was singled out from a line of vehicles travelling about 25km by a police officer who was standing on the opposite carriage way, along the vicinity of Mahaicony public road with two others. After complying with the officer to stop, I was ordered to the side of the road where I waited. At all times my two front glasses were down. After waiting for a while and not given any explanation or reason for the stop, I became angry for the detention.

“My frustration lead me to use many colourful expletives to get my point across to the officer for the illegal stop. There were things said prior to the filming,” Crawford explained, later adding:

“I am not trying to justify my behaviour. My language was not proper as an officer of the courts, nor as a member of the Bar of Guyana. I apologise for my language, but I’m not sorry for questioning any arbitrary authority.”

He went on to state that in his years as a practising attorney in both the civil and criminal courts, having heard of the “plight of citizens” at the hands of some in the police force, his frustrations had been brewing for some time.

The attorney-at-law added that such ills in the police force were even taken up by his father, Senior Counsel Marcel Crawford, in the court and many more issues unaddressed by the government, are still plaguing the country.

However, since Crawford’s behaviour became public knowledge, the uploaded video has been viewed thousands of times with hundreds of shares, including the surfacing of social media memes and spoof videos.

Scores of public citizens and the well-known in society have also taken to the platform and continue to share differing views on the matter, sparking some level of debate.

Guyanese politician and lawyer, Ralph Ramkarran, posted on his Facebook page: “On several occasions in the past, the police authorities have announced that policemen have no right to request a vehicle owner to go to the police station for a minor offence. This, of course, has never been observed by traffic policemen who continue to hold on to drivers’ licences and demand that drivers go to police stations. I have been the victim of most of these forms of harassment and so have family members and friends who have called me for assistance and advice. So have most of the thousands of drivers on the road. A traffic policeman’s position is seen as a lucrative one.

“Mr Crawford probably has a legal practice in traffic cases and would have had many complaints about the activities and behaviour of traffic police, and [have] been the victim of many on his frequent trips to Georgetown. He exploded this time. Like in the Serena Williams case, Mr. Crawford’s reaction was understandable but not excusable.”

Meanwhile, Crime Chief Lyndon Alves told the newspaper on Sunday that the matter is still under police investigation, but it is hoped that by today this will be completed so that legal advice can be sought on moving forward.


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