By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HUMAN rights group Rights Bahamas filed a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court yesterday seeking to compel the Royal Bahamas Police Force to produce Marvin Pratt, 40, a Gambier Village resident police deny having in custody.
Mr Pratt’s family insists police arrested him more than two weeks ago, a claim Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson has rejected.
In an affidavit filed yesterday, Mr Pratt’s mother, Barbara Saunders, alleges an officer told the family her son was taken into custody.
“A friend of the family who is employed by the Royal Bahamas Police Force – in the Forensics Unit – informed me and I verily believe that he saw Marvin in the custody at the Drug Enforcement Unit/Central Detective Unit and he appeared to be battered and bruised,” she said. “I am in fear that if I reveal the identity or the source of this information that he may be victimised by the respondents as they continue to deny having custody of my son.”
Ms Saunders adds: “On Saturday, December 8, 2018, my granddaughter, Robyn Noel, and I after not hearing from or seeing Marvin, went to the Drug Enforcement Unit on Thompson Blvd looking for him because we were concerned about his welfare. I asked the officer at the station ‘do y’all have a Marvin Saunders or Marvin Pratt’ and the officer responded ‘y’all come to sign his bail ay’ to which I responded ‘yes’ and he went in the back.
“When the officer returned he had a face only a mother could love and he immediately changed his tone about Marvin being in custody. I said to the officer ‘but you just asked me if I came to sign his bail, that means he is here.’ The officer began speaking to me and my granddaughter in an aggressive manner - saying Marvin was not in custody. We became afraid and we left and went to the Central Detective Unit which was located next door.”
Ms Saunders says she told a CDU officer she was looking for her son. The officer then took a statement concerning her whereabouts on December 4 and the last time she saw Mr Pratt.
“At the conclusion of the statement he asked me to sign, which I did, and he said that he needed a picture of my son in order to complete a missing person report,” she says in the affidavit. “I told the officer that I was not filing a missing person’s report because I knew they had my son in custody there. The officer insisted I bring a picture of Marvin and I keep refusing because I knew the officers were well aware of how my son looked as he was no stranger to the police.”
Ms Saunders alleges that after her visit to CDU, a female officer from the Cable Beach police station called and asked if Mr Pratt came home yet.
“I responded ‘how could he come home if y’all have him?’” she says. “I know within my heart, that if Marvin was released by the respondents he would have come home or tried to reach out to his family. This is the longest period of time Marvin has been away from home without us knowing his whereabouts.”
In her affidavit, a neighbour, Rose Francis, alleges she was walking home from work on Holly Hock Road on December 5 around 10am when she saw officers near Mr Pratt’s home.
She says: “I saw Marvin in the back of his yard and I shouted ‘Marvin, run, run, run, the man, the man.’ I am certain they were police officers because their vests were marked ‘DEU’ which I understand to mean Drug Enforcement Unit. Also, it is not uncommon for them to frequent the area, as a result I am very familiar with them. When Marvin heard me shouting he began to run, however the police officers gave chase and eventually captured him. I was standing right next to the officers (about three feet) when they violently shoved Marvin into the Drug Enforcement Unit bus, handcuffed. After shoving Marvin into the bus one of the officers shouted at me saying ‘if you open your (expletive) mouth I will kill you.’ That was the last time I saw Marvin. When I heard that the family had not seen or heard from Marvin since the arrest, I told them that I witnessed Marvin being arrested by officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”
However, Commissioner Ferguson has suggested it is irresponsible to report Ms Saunders and Ms Francis’ claims.
During a meeting with the press on Wednesday, he said: “I want to make it clear that anyone of you who have someone make accusations against you that is not founded, I believe you would feel really hurt to know someone is scandalizing your name and I think as press corps you have to be responsible in analysing the things that you hear and make some sense out of it in a way that you can really report accurately. We don’t want to put fear in our people.”
He later told The Tribune Mr Pratt is still being treated as a missing person. Up to press time yesterday, Mr Pratt’s family said they still don’t know his whereabouts.