PHILIPSBURG–One St. Maarten’s police officers, A.H., was suspended with immediate effect on Thursday after her involvement in a family dispute at their Pond Island business. The officer in question was off duty on Thursday when she was called by her mother and father, who own a business opposite Festival Village, that one tenant was making an issue on their property.
The Daily Herald understands that police have visited the same business 15 times for the year as several arguments took place between the family and tenants occupying their property without their consent. A civil case was initiated by the family, which they won, and tenants were given a time period to vacate the premises.
Thursday one of the tenants decided to start construction at his home and had a truck bring sand and coconuts to the property without the family’s consent. The mother of the suspended officer told the tenant he had no right to do construction and told the driver of the truck he had no permission to enter the yard. The tenant in turn started to physically attack the family members and told them that he would do as he pleased.
The family contacted the police immediately and when the off-duty officer arrived; police officers were already dealing with the heated situation. The tenant started to threaten the off-duty officer’s mother again and the off-duty officer decided to intervene and engage into an argument with him. Shortly after, she was slapped by a Dutch police officer who was the high-ranking officer at the scene.
According to witnesses who spoke to this newspaper, the Dutch police officer took out his handcuffs and told the woman officer that she would be arrested if she did not calm down and she would be pepper-sprayed. The off-duty officer told the other officers that she was not making trouble, but wanted to know the reason for her being assaulted.
Another high-ranking officer arrived at the scene and told A.H. she had to come to the station to answer some questions. She was pushed from the scene into a squad car and with her mother, who came to her daughter’s defence, taken to the police station where they were held for several hours. She and her mother were released late on Thursday and the officer was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
Police officers at the scene decided to allow the truck to dump the sand and close the bar which the family operates. The off-duty officer asked the officers how they could just determine that the bar should close and allow the driver to dump the sand if they had not asked for the paperwork of the land. The officers told her that the property is not their land and the police are tired of coming to their location every time there is a dispute.
Police spokesman Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson said on Friday that the situation is being investigated.
“A female police officer identified with initials A.H. has been suspended from her duties pending further investigation regarding her conduct in connection with an incident that took place on the Soualiga Boulevard in the late afternoon on Thursday March 29. Video footage of the incident has been circulating on social media. The Police Internal Affairs has been ordered to conduct this investigation,” stated Henson.
He said Police Internal affairs will deal with the case from now on.
The tenant responsible for the incident was not arrested or questioned by police.
The suspended officer had swelling to her face as a result of the slap and has already contacted her lawyer who intends to file a complaint against the Dutch police officer.
According to reports, the same Dutch officer pepper-sprayed a woman three days ago for not wanting to come out of her vehicle during a routine tint control. The woman will be filing a complaint about the incident with the Police Internal Affairs Department.