What “special circumstances” make it okay to bite a police officer?

Barbados news media cooperates in the cover-up

by Holetown Brawler

The Court of Appeal is trying to suck and blow at the same time and with the help of the Barbados news media all they have done so far is to confuse the public, the police and the criminals.

Damien Omar Cummins bit a police officer and ripped off his shirt. For that he was sentenced to nine months in jail. Bite a police officer, go straight to jail. Fine. Everybody knows dats da rules!

But then the Court of Appeal quashed Cummins’ jail sentence – and then tried to say that wounding a police officer is serious business and people who do that can “generally” expect to go to jail.

“We consider a non-custodial sentence appropriate in the special circumstances of the case based on the information disclosed to this Court on the offences and the offender.” said the Court of Appeal.

That’s not good enough. Not by half.

Bajans deserve the truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth. It is not enough for the Court of Appeal or the news media to gloss over this story.

It’s not good enough for the public – who rightfully wonder what happened. It’s not good enough for the police officers – who rightfully wonder what made the court decide that this wounding of a police officer was ‘okay’. It’s not good enough for the criminals who are wondering if the rules have changed and the Barbados courts have gone soft on harming a police officer.

Is this a cover-up of bad police behaviour? Is it a cover-up of mistakes made by the DPP? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MAKE IT “SPECIAL”?

The public, the police and the thugs on the block may agree that the Court of Appeal’s position is proper justice: but they can’t be kept in the dark by the court and the news media who say “Trust us.”

That “Trust us” business doesn’t fly anymore.

Bajans want to know, and deserve to know: What were the “special circumstances” that made it okay for Damien Omar Cummins to bite a police officer and not go to jail?

Further Reading

BFP, May 19, 2012: Barbados Appeal Court: No jail time for wounding a police officer

Hands Off!

The Nation

PEOPLE who inflict physical violence on police officers, public officials and other people in authority during the execution of their duties can “generally” expect a custodial sentence from the court.

This warning was recently issued by the Court of Appeal while handing down a decision on an appeal by a 27-year-old man against the nine months’ prison sentence he received for biting a police officer.

Based on the merits of the case, the Justices of Appeal, who included Acting Chief Justice Peter Williams, Sherman Moore, and Andrew Burgess, quashed the nine-month sentence of imprisonment which was imposed on Damien Omar Cummins, for unlawfully and maliciously wounding Police Constable Kirvin Roach, but they sent out the stern warning to other would be offenders.

“We consider a non-custodial sentence appropriate in the special circumstances of the case based on the information disclosed to this Court on the offences and the offender.

…read the original news article at The Nation


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

26 responses to “What “special circumstances” make it okay to bite a police officer?

  1. robert ross

    You want two bites at the cherry?

  2. Anonymous

    Only ANIMALS bite..

  3. mark Fenty

    I believe then, as I do now, that when a criminal physical assault a peace- officer, that the consequence of his or her action should warrant some kind jail-time. Now, I’m not advancing this view because many of the men and women of this institution was once my friend. But because it sends the right kind of message to those who are entertaining the idea. The bottom- line is this, a strong message has to be sent to deter those elements who think that their can assault a peace-office, without serious consequence for their action. Now, the “Criminal-Law” is built on “Rewards” and “Punishments”. You contravene the law; you’re culpable of its consequences, especially when it involves those who enforce the law.

  4. Pingback: Barbados: The Jaws of Justice · Global Voices

  5. robert ross

    Rewards and punishments?

    OK I bite Mark Fenty not a police officer. I don’t go to jail. That’s the reward. I bite a policeman, I go to jail. That’s the punishment. Actually I thought it was only the religions of the Book which were about rewards and punishments. Does that mean we should consider policemen as gods? What makes a bullying policeman any different from any other bully? Why should a uniform give a man special protection from teeth? When did anyone actually “entertain” the idea of biting a policeman? And will the punishment differ according to where you bite him?

  6. robert ross

    Actually, I think this post is hysterical. The CA clearly gave its judgment in open court else it would never have been reported at all. Oh and by the way – where is the ‘rule’ which says ‘if you bite a policeman (as distinct from anyone else) you go to jail’? Is it to be found in the Laws of Barbados?

  7. 53

    It should be up to the better judgement of the Magistrate, or Judge, wouldn’t you think?

  8. Mark Fenty

    Robert, as you well know that, there is good and bad in every organization, and the institution of the police aren’t exempted from this reality. And I believe, as you do, that those Police- officers who think that their are
    above that law. Should be held accountable like the rest of the common citizenzy, and they are for the most part.

    Furthermore, Robert, there is a concept in the law that is called the “(Supremacy of the law)”.And it states that no one is above the law, the law applies to all equally. Even police, Justices, judges, and the whole echelon of law- enforcement are included.

    Which respect to (Reward) and (Punishment), the whole concept of Western jurisprudence is fundamentally based on the concept of Reward and Punishment.And it derived its existence from the Judeo- Christian Tradition. The whole concept of Western (“Morality”) derived its existence from the Judeo -Christain Tradition. Even when one closely examine the concept of “Evolutionary Ethics”, one sees that it is fundamentally based on pleasure and pain principle. In others words, good and bad, or rewards and punishments you follow what I’m saying.

  9. Mark Fenty

    We have what is called “Anarchy”, when officers such as: judges, justices, polices, Lawyers, and Magistrates who have taken an oath to uphold and execute the laws of a society.Then turn around and undermined the same laws that they are vested to uphold. That is why “Checks” and “Balances” are so important to the Sustainability of a Democracy. As a matter of fact, it is the Life- blood which keep probity in the system.

  10. Mark Fenty

    Robert, even in the most primitive of society, which many termed the “Hunter”, “Gather” society. (This is a Evolutionary Construct) There
    obviously had to be some kind directives that dealt with those behaviors which undermined the harmony of the society. Now simple put, the behaviors that were inappropriate had to be” Punished”, and those which were in accordance with the society were “Rewarded.”

  11. Mark Fenty

    Robert, I could even go further as saying that, the whole concept of morality which had applied to Nation of Israel derived its jurisprudence from
    the Ten-Commandments. And the Ten- Commandment is the basis for many of the laws in the Western societies, and these laws are based on Rewards and Punishments.

  12. Mark Fenty

    Robert! In the absence of the metaphysical concept of God, how does one derive their sense of morality? Or rather, how does one distinguish
    between right and wrong in the absence of Christian- Morality? In others words, I’m speak about “(Tabula Rasa)” in view of Christian Morality.

  13. Mark Fenty

    My finally point for the evening is this. No system of civil government is without its imperfections,and if we are hoping for such, then we are in for a
    rude awaking. It has been said that man, “Has to be protected by the government, and from the government.”

  14. robert ross

    @ Mark

    Refer you, eg, to the Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle. You don’t need specifically Christian morality to have a code of ethics, though I grant that our Criminal Law, in its SIMPLE precepts, is rooted in Christian morality. The modern view, however, in the cases and in documents like the Wolfenden Report, is that law and (Christian) morality are not co-extensive. Most rules are morally neutral anyway. Not sure what you mean by “Western Jurisprudence”. If you mean the diverse body of legal rules contained in common law and civil law jurisdictions, I’ve dealt with that. If you mean legal theory, then I cannot think of any jurisprudential analysis which is rooted in rewards and punishments. I acknowledge that you agree with me that the religions of the Book are thus rooted. Modern theological writers (who are or were also priests) have argued persuasively that the time has come to rid our moral sense of specifically Christian precepts, eg Richard Holloway and Don Cupitt, because of the irrevocable harm it has caused down the centuries: the legacy of Leviticus is an obvious example.

  15. BFP

    Hi 53,

    Whatever is done in court should not be done in secret. The island is too small for that and our court history is replete with favours and unexplained ‘charges dropped’ and other mysteries.

  16. robert ross

    @ BFP

    But WHAT was done in secret? IF you are talking about the machinations in the DPP’s office THAT of course is another story – but NOT the decision of the CA. The post is composing.

  17. Mark Fenty

    Robert, would you agree that the “(Social Contract)” which was written by Locke, Hobbs, and Rousseau has within it the concept of rewards, and Punishments? Well, according to the laws of “God” and “Nature” “Man” is a free agent in body, mind, and soul right?. But in order for man to live in harmony within “Civil Society” he must surrender some of these Rights that Nature, and God bestowed upon him right?. So in essence, Robert, if one meticulously surveys the concept of the “(Social Contract)”, one sees yet again, the concept of “Rewards” and “Punishments” in full view. In other words, if man complies with the terms of the “(Social Contract)” he is rewarded, but if he fails to live-up the prescribed standards of the “Contract” he would certainly would be punished for violating those terms. A simpler way to illustrate what I’m endeavoring to express here, is through let’s say the basis rule of law. Now take for example, the infraction of “Rape”, when one frames this within the context of the “(Social Contract)” or the “Criminal- Law” for example. One knows that when a man seduces a woman for the main purpose of sexual gratification he reaps the “Reward” of satisfying his personal desire. But if he forcefully take sex from a women without her consent which is defined as Rape within “Western Jurisprudence” , he will certainly be “Punished” for this immoral act right?

  18. Mark Fenty

    Robert, Almost everything one does has within the concept of Rewards and Punishment. Now,take for example, a child in its process of physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development. Now, one would hope that a parent of sound psychological bearing would normally reward a child for those behaviors which are deemed morally acceptable according to the dictates of societal standards. And would mostly likely punish or redirect a child for those behaviors which are deemed socially inappropriate according to the dictates of societal norms. So in essence Robert, when one meticulously and intellectually vivisect the genesis of Rewards and Punishments. One, certainly discovers that is in itself, have within it a moral- application that is predicated upon the Judeo- Christian Ethics.

  19. robert ross

    @ Mark

    I think you’re becoming strangled by the metaphor.

  20. Mark Fenty

    Robert, I’m grateful for your feedback, because to be quite honest, I don’t claim to be conversant on this subject. But I would nonetheless disagree with your analysis of my metaphorical description of this issue. Nonetheless, until otherwise induce, I stand by my position that the concepts of “Reward” and “Punishment” has been intricately interfused in Western Jurisprudence from its inception . Indeed, the evidence supports the findings as far as I’m concern. But it is just a matter of meticulously and arduously ascertaining the supportive- evidence to validate one’s position on this subject.

  21. robert ross

    Here’s a ‘policeman’ story.

    Last evening I was walking along a very narrow country lane with my dog. A truck passed me at great speed. Fortunately I was able to step onto the verge. I continued walking and saw the truck turn round at the top of the approaching hill. By that time I had reached a point where there was no verge. The truck approached me at great speed. I held up my arm to try to tell him to slow. The driver didn’t, and in fact drove straight at me with head lights full on. At the last moment he swerved away from me. There were people at the point where the truck turned round so that they would have known who had alighted from the truck

    When I got home, I telephoned the Glebe police station. I was spoken to by a PC Hunt. He told me someone would come and take details. No-one came. By 11.30 this morning no-one had come and so I telephoned again. I was told that the report would have gone to Boarded Hall and so I telephoned there. There had been no report. The officer told me someone would come to take details. It is now 4.12pm and no-one has come.

    Please advise: should I bite PC Hunt?

  22. klepto-depto-dlp

    Do we know yet what the “special circumstances” were that caused the judge to let him off so lightly?

    I think we the public have a right to know.

  23. Mark Fenty

    @Robert Ross
    Robert It was an interesting drama, poetic in nature, but I don’t see how it reflects the general attitude of the (Royal Barbados Police Force), because of the incompetence of a few bad apples. Obviously, we all are aware of the fact that when one put on the uniform, that he or she is expected to conduct his or her self with a certain degree of decorum. Let’s face it though; we have to be willing to accept a certain amount improbity given the finite nature of the human-species. I’m sure you have heard the old adage, “That when we plan, we must do so with the Devil in mind, because he is always in the details”.
    And don’t you think that it would be in the best interest of the public to treat each case on its own merit? Rather than rendering a verdict of Guilty to the collective whole? Its just not fair and well founded, too arbitrarily or unilaterally vitiate the character of any institution for the moral turpitudes of a few individuals . Indeed, there is no fundamental different here, when someone imputing you or I with some criminal act which one of our next kin has committed.

  24. Mark Fenty

    Robert I’m quite aware of the fact that the issue of (“Rewards”), and (“Punishments”) has been drawn out for far too long now. But I felt that I did not give a sufficient enough explanation when I endeavored to address your question. In the interest of limiting the time further spend on this issue, I will address it briefly, and frame within the context of the American republican system of government. Now, if we take for example, the concept of “Freedom of Speech” which some here in America to often take for granted from time to time? As you yourself know, that it is one of those Freedoms that most democracies in our present time haven’t even conceive empirically, furthermore theoretically. However, conceptually, freedom of Speech enjoys phenomenal latitude when compared to the rest of the world, but there is an argument yet to be made concern this speculation. Nonetheless, with these (“Rewards”) comes a tremendous responsibility. Because if one dares to exceed the constitutional periphery of this concept of Free- Speech, there are serious Punishments which one is subject to, such as prosecution and punitive consequences. So this simple example, demonstrates quite clearly I hope, the Rewards which the Civil- Law prescribes and the Punishments which it ushers out to those who undermines.

    Too often some of us interpret these “Rewards” that the civil law prescribe to its citizenry quite literally.. We nonchalantly interpret them in term of the material benefits to be derived from the law. But I’m talk about Rewards in terms to freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to have any job one desire etc. It is only when one violate the conditions up which these “Rewards” are prescribed that one suffer the Punishments that are attached to them. Let me give another example with respect to the Federal Law here in America. Take for example, the right to vote, and the right to decide a career one desires. Well, if one is convicted here with felony, he or she forfeit their right to vote, and are limited as to the kind of employment he or she can obtain in the future. So you see, intricate interfused within the Law are these two concepts, “Rewards” and “Punishments” which sometime escapes our comprehension.

    The conclusion that I have drawn from my brief analysis of “Rewards” and “Punishment” is this, attached to every Punishment are Rewards that has been lost, attached to every Reward are benefits to be gain. So my original question this, is the concept of Western Jurisprudence founded upon Rewards and Punishment because it derives its life-blood from the Judeo- Christian- Tradition?

  25. robert ross

    @ Klepto

    This post is derived from a newpaper report. The decision of the CA was thus in open Court else it could not have been reported. Suggest you look online for the report or telephone Registry to see whether a copy might be obtained. The one thing that came from the newspaper report was that the magistrate erred in not obtaining a pre-sentence report – which is conventional.

  26. robert ross


    Frankly you are obsessive to ‘prove’ a point. A last remark to you. You have argued about the idea of a ‘social contract’. A contract is a consensual thing. A fortiori, it cannot be about rewards and punishments which implies a ‘superior’ capable of rewarding and punishing and so no consensual political arrangement. You can have one or other – not both.