After trial by jury, Rabe Welcome was found guilty Thursday afternoon of unlawfully and maliciously wounding Adolphus Myrie at On the Run Service Station in the early hours of 17 June 2009. Welcome was off-duty at the time and other off-duty police officers were on the premises.
The men did not know each other. The jury saw CCTV of an incident inside the station store and video from another camera, which focused on a well-lit area outside near a dumpster. That camera showed the physical action that resulted in the charge.
After the unanimous jury verdict, Justice Alexander Henderson adjourned sentencing until 3 August. He noted that wounding can attract a wide range of sentences. His understanding was that judges can make findings of fact, but they could not be seen to be contrary to the jury’s verdict. He also noted that Cayman does not have “special verdicts” as an option.
Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson and Defence Attorney Ben Tonner later explained that “special verdict” means that the jury could be asked for the basis of their verdict.
In this case, given the law as explained by Justice Henderson in his instructions to jurors, they could have rejected self-defence or they could have found that force used in self-defence was excessive or they could have found that Welcome was attempting to effect an arrest but used force beyond what was reasonable.
Mr. Myrie’s injuries included a laceration to the chin that required stitches, another laceration to the head, bruises and a broken arm.
The RCIPS issued the following statement following the verdict against Welcome:
“The RCIPS takes any allegation of assaults by officers extremely seriously. Although there are occasions when officers do find themselves in situations where the use of force is necessary, they must be able to justify that the use of force was justified and proportionate to the circumstances at the time. In this case it was clear that the level of force used was far from justified or proportionate.
“As police officers we are sworn to uphold the laws and the guilty verdicts reached by the jury is a reminder that police officers are not above the law and will be held accountable if they act outside of their lawful authority.
“Unfortunately the actions of a few can blight the reputation of the many honest, hardworking and committed officers within the Service. We will continue to work diligently to maintain the highest professional standards within the RCIPS.”
Welcome is still officially on suspension with pay from the RCIPS. He will remain free on bail until sentencing.