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Kareem Marcelle and his brothers awarded over $618k for wrongful arrest and assault

Community activist and attorney Kareem Marcelle is calling for legislation and policy to govern how police officers obtain warrants.

He made the call after he and his two brothers won their wrongful arrest and assault and battery lawsuit on Wednesday during a hearing at the Waterfront Judicial Centre in Port of Spain.

Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered the State to compensate the three in excess of $618,000, which includes interest of $206,000 for each brother, as well as their legal costs.

Back in 2018, police arrested the brothers after forcing their way into their Beetham Gardens home during a raid.

Marcelle said Wednesday’s decision was monumental, since they had spent five years waiting for justice.

He joined the call of judges and former police commissioner Gary Griffith for errant police officers to be personally held liable for their unlawful actions.

“I felt that if my home was anywhere else in Trinidad and Tobago, in an upscale community, we would not have been met with the hate, force and anger.”

Marcelle said his pursuit of legal action was undertaken not only for his family, but for the much-maligned Beetham Gardens community.

That day, he said, the police did not come with the pride and trustworthiness they ask of the public.

He also said he was of the opinion his and his brothers’ constitutional rights were trampled that day by the police.

“We know the police service has some work to do. We hope that this decision can signal to the professionalism expected of police officers, regardless of which community and home they want to execute warrants on.”

“We know the majority of police officers are professionals. However, they must be held accountable.

“It cannot be that an officer can wake up one morning and go by a JP and say, ‘I see something,’ and you get a search warrant to break down people’s doors and threaten to kill them if they move.”

He called on the Attorney General, Parliament and the police service to “step up” and develop legislation and policies for obtaining and executing search warrants, since reform was needed.

In her ruling, Quinlan-Williams held that the warrant used by the police to gain entry into the brothers’ home on June 27, 2018, was maliciously procured.

She also found that the officer who obtained and executed the warrant, PC Lendel Ogaro, did not have reasonable or probable cause, and that was sufficient for the court to make a finding of bias.

“The fact that a justice of the peace issued the warrant was not good enough.”