Protester claims off-duty officer intimidated her
A policeman awarded custody of his child in Family Court has been accused of intimidating a counsellor who came to Bermuda to support the mother in the case.
Carol Parkman, from Worcester County, Massachusetts, has made a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority about the alleged aggressive behaviour of Pc Robert Butterfield on Saturday, July 23, when the officer was off-duty.
But Pc Butterfield insisted to The Royal Gazette he wasnt at fault, claiming: Her version of events is far from the truth.
Ms Parkman was staging a protest against the outcome of the custody matter outside the Department of Child and Family Services on Victoria Street in Hamilton when she was approached by Pc Butterfield.
She was carrying a sign which read: Ask me Y I am standing here?
In her complaint to police, shared with this newspaper, Ms Parkman wrote: Robert Butterfield approached me in a very aggressive fashion, shouting what are you doing here?.
He repeated that three times, each time more aggressively. He followed with you cant be here with that sign!. He then proceeded to shove a cell phone camera very close to my face.
At that point, I thought he was going to hit me; he was so close, I could feel his breath as he yelled at me.
Ms Parkman, who runs her own counselling practice in the US, states on-duty police officers arrived and began asking her questions but she begged them to get her to safety because she was so scared.
I shouted out I am a US citizen, call the embassy. The officer didnt respond. I said I will go to the police station and I started walking faster and faster.
By the time I arrived I was out of breath ... I sat down and began feeling sick. The inspector arrived and I told him I felt sick and started to have chest pain. An ambulance was called and I was taken to the hospital.
Ms Parkman, who is under the care of a cardiologist in the States, alleges in her complaint: This is conduct unbecoming of a police officer.
Pc Butterfield, 41, posted photographs on Facebook of Ms Parkman carrying her sign, with the question: Did anyone see, notice or speak with this lady today at the junction of Victoria and Parliament Street? Gee.
He told this newspaper in an e-mail: She is a visitor to the Island and as such should not be out in public with a sign which stated Ask me Y I am standing here?.
On the day in question, I was not on duty and, as a matter of a fact, I am currently on vacation. However, I will not tolerate such behaviour from anyone.
The officer claimed Ms Parkman made false accusations about him and had no right standing on that corner doing so.
I was and still am highly offended by what she did, he said. I have never in all my years heard of a tourist coming to Bermuda and acting in the manner she has displayed.
He added: She is lucky I am not in charge of this country. This is as a result of me winning custody of my minor child in America and then the courts in Bermuda acknowledging that said order.
Why did she not display her bad behaviour in America, when the courts over there awarded me custody. Obviously she is trying to destroy my reputation in Bermuda, as Bermuda is a small place.
He said he recorded her behaviour and complained to police but was not optimistic that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would prosecute her.
I am more than sure they would find some excuse not to, he wrote. The problem is people in authority like the DPPs office are not held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said: Police are aware of this incident and an investigation has commenced. However, as this matter has been formally put before the Police Complaints Authority, it would not be prudent for the BPS to respond any further.
Pc Butterfield has hit the headlines several times in recent years in connection with a domestic dispute with his childs mother.
He twice faced criminal charges during 2006 and 2007. The first case saw him charged with assault, uttering threatening words and trespassing, but the charges were later dropped at the request of the childs mother.
He later went on trial for stalking her and acting in an abusive manner but was cleared after a Magistrates Court trial.
During the legal proceedings, Pc Butterfield was suspended from work on two-thirds pay for more than a year. He was reinstated after the proceedings ended.
Last year, he launched a legal action for false imprisonment against the Police Commissioner in relation to two days he spent in Hamilton Police Station in 2006 after being arrested for a breach of the peace.
His lawyer Richard Horseman said he did not pursue the case. He would only be entitled to fairly minimal damages if we succeeded and the costs would outweigh any benefit.
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