Nov. 17, 2005 Statements made in court by an officer under oath are being refuted by the Police Department.
According to a Virgin Islands Daily News report, Officer Earl L. Rogers said Tuesday that he had not been suspended for his alleged assault on Market Square East employee Greta George. Rogers, who was testifying in an unrelated court case at the time, said he had instead cut a deal with VIPD's Internal Affairs Unit to remain on "administrative leave" while still collecting his paycheck. In the article, Rogers reportedly told reporters he was also still toting his badge and firearm.
In July, Rogers allegedly assaulted George at the movie theater after she told him not to exit through the entrance door of the building. According to witnesses at the scene, Rogers got angry at George and pushed her out of the theater and onto the sidewalk (See "Witness Says Off-Duty Officer Assaulted Movie Usher").
When contacted Thursday, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis said he is not aware of any deals, nor was he present in the courtroom Tuesday to hear what Rogers had to say. Lewis added he had issued an order for Rogers' suspension in October, after Internal Affairs investigated the incident, and Rogers had acknowledged his guilt in the matter.
"The allegations made in court that 'back-room deals' or other inappropriate actions were taken by this administration are completely untrue, and only serve to cause a rift between the Department and the public we serve," Lewis stated in a press release issued Wednesday. "I want to reassure all members of the department, the public and particularly the George family, that I do not condone illegal actions, inappropriate comments or any sort of cover-ups in my organization," he said.
Internal Affairs Director Ray Martinez had not returned phone calls by publication time.
Lewis further wrote that he was "surprised and dismayed" at Rogers' statements, but after an "extensive inquiry" into the situation, found that the suspension order was not forwarded to VIPD finance, payroll and personnel heads. "This thereby prevented the suspension of pay from being affected," Lewis wrote. "This administrative misstep was a failure on the part of my department, and more specifically the Internal Affairs Unit."
Lewis said he has "personally handled the problem," and that Rogers' suspensionwithout paywill be effective from Nov. 16 to Dec. 20. "I have also personally confirmed that all of Officer Rogers' equipment, including weapons, ammunition and badge, were confiscated and placed in safekeeping on Aug. 25," he said.
Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah also said Rogers is currently undergoing psychological testing to determine whether he is fit to be an officer. Lewis could not confirm if testing is in fact ongoing. "However, the testing is mandatory with these kind of incidents, and if it hasn't happened yet, it will soon," Lewis said.
New procedures to provide for accurate and timely communication, accountability, and to prevent further breeches in protocol have also been put in place, Lewis added. However, Lewis did not make it clear what these procedures are.
"As the head of the V.I. Police Department, the responsibility for any errors by department personnel ultimately lies with me. I not only accept this responsibility, I have dedicated my career to making the VIPD the best that it can be, and I encourage the public to make me aware of any areas where we can improve, so that I can address them," Lewis said.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.