Fired policeman ordered to be reinstated by PSC launches legal action to get his job back
A police officer fired for misconduct who won an appeal against the decision has launched a legal action to get back on the beat.
Police constable Oswin Pereira lost his job in January after a disciplinary panel found he used “excessive force” on a teenage suspect after a high-speed chase and then tried to cover up the assault.
He appealed the decision to the Public Service Commission, which ruled in August that he should not have been dismissed.
But the Bermuda Police Service has still not reinstated him and Victoria Greening, his lawyer, filed civil proceedings on his behalf against the Commissioner of Police on Wednesday.
The application for permission to seek a judicial review said Mr Pereira wanted a court order for his reinstatement and the reinstatement of his salary and benefits.
He also asked for an order that his dismissal was “premature and thus unlawful” and damages.
Mr Pereira, in an affidavit in support of the application, said: “I am entitled to due process under the Police (Conduct) Orders 2016, which includes my right of appeal.
“Notwithstanding, I was dismissed before my right of appeal was exhausted.”
He added: “I did in fact appeal to the Public Service Commission.
“On August 17, 2020, a decision was handed down by the PSC and I was successful to the extent that they held that the recommendation … to dismiss me was unreasonable and should be varied to that of a final warning.”
The PSC ruling found no evidence to support the police disciplinary panel’s finding that Mr Pereira unlawfully assaulted Talundae Grant on the head with a baton on May 13, 2017 and said there was “no physical harm found to be suffered by Mr Grant” at the hands of the officer.
The commission said it was “telling that there was no evidence of a complaint made of an assault by Mr Grant on May 13, 2017” and that the “late complaint” seemed to have arisen after the teenager’s lawyer obtained a copy of Mr Pereira’s body camera video.
The officer can be heard in the video to say “camera’s off”.
Pc Pereira told the police disciplinary panel he was not telling a fellow officer to turn his camera off but rather instructing him to turn his camera on and that he did not wilfully turn his own camera off.
But the panel rejected his explanation and the PSC agreed.
The commission said the only harm caused was to the BPS’s reputation and to public confidence in policing because of the “implausible account” given by Pc Pereira about the body camera.
The PSC added: “Giving an untruthful explanation in order to protect himself from criticism does undermine the reputation of the Bermuda Police Service.”
The PSC replaced the dismissal without notice, which it said was unreasonable, with a final written warning.
Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, said after the ruling that he would take “separate legal advice to consider the position of the BPS on this matter”.
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said yesterday: “This matter remains before the courts. As such, it would be inappropriate for the Bermuda Police Service to comment at this time.”
A failure to give Mr Pereira his job back was one of a number of criticisms levelled at Mr Corbishley in an anonymous WhatsApp message which circulated this week.
The commissioner later accused a “small minority” of officers under investigation over their behaviour on the job of launching the social media attack against him.
A BPS spokesman said today that “Mr Pereira was found to be dishonest by both a police conduct panel and indeed the PSC”.
He added: “The submission by the Bermuda Police Service for a judicial review, is to the decision by the PSC to re-employ Mr Pereira.
“This application is based on a stated case of law that within the office of constable: ’An officer found to have been dishonest can no longer be perceived as a witness of truth, thereby being unable to perform any operational role within policing’.”
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include an additional comment from the Bermuda Police Service.