Nov 30, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on Sunday began a probe to determine whether three of its ranks can be deemed culpable in the death of 18-year-old Tonika Calder, a rape victim.
Calder reportedly took her own life on Thursday, November 11, last, moments after returning from the Cove and John Police Station on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
She was allegedly raped by a 49-year-old taxi driver on Saturday November 6, last and had reported it to police at the ECD station.
On Tuesday, three investigating ranks, two males and a female, had invited Calder to the police station to conduct an interview with her and the suspect.
When she returned home that day, Calder went straight to her room and closed the door, according to her mother. The mother revealed that a few moments later, she called out for Calder but after getting no response she went to her room and found her dead.
According to reports she had committed suicide.
It is believed, however, that although Calder took her own life, the ranks who conducted the interview with her might be the ones who caused her to take that action.
Sources told this newspaper that the Commissioner of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie, on Sunday summoned Calder’s relatives to his office at Eve Leary, Georgetown to commence the investigation.
They were reportedly present when the three ranks were interviewing Calder, and as such OPR investigators, on Sunday, wanted to take their statements.
Speaking to Kaieteur News, Calder’s relatives said that they believe that the ranks currently under investigation had conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner.
“The way they conducted the interview (with Calder),” they opined, “caused her to relive the trauma” she had experienced on the day she was allegedly raped.
On Saturday, November 6, Calder was allowed to attend the birthday party of one of her friends. Her family had made arrangements with a taxi driver, who has been known to the family for the past two years, to pick her up from the party around 17:00hrs.
The taxi driver allegedly picked her up from the party about an hour after the scheduled time and instead of dropping her home immediately, he took her to a location on the East Coast of Demerara and allegedly raped her in the back seat of his car.
He then reportedly dropped Calder home and left.
Her relatives recalled that the young woman went to her room and later told her mother that she was raped by the taxi driver.
The following day, November 7, Calder’s relatives lodged a report against the suspect with police.
They said that it took a while for the police to arrest the suspect. “We would tell them where he is and every time the ranks go to his house, they would return empty handed and when we ask them why, they would always have an excuse,” stated her elder sister, Dixie Jordan.
The suspect eventually promised to turn himself in and on Thursday police summoned Calder for an interview at the Cove and John Police Station.
Relatives, who had accompanied Calder there, said that the three began to interview Calder in the presence of the accused.
Kaieteur News was informed that the services of a social worker was not requested by the ranks.
As Calder told her story, the relatives alleged, the suspect started to deny and even mocked her. When it was his turn to relate his version of the events, according to the relatives, it appeared as though the ranks believed his version of the story. It was at this point, the relatives intimated, that the ranks began to act in an unprofessional manner.
Calder’s sister, Jordan, recounted that the accused told the cops that “she wanted sex and he give her sex.”
Kaieteur News was told too that not only did he try to convince the ranks that it was not a case of rape but that he was even allowed to give details about everything he did to her.
Jordan said that her sister broke down in tears and started to scream, he is lying’ as the suspect described the sexual acts he performed on her that night in the back of his car.
As the young woman tried to defend herself, the relatives alleged, the ranks shouted at her and even threatened that if she continued ‘lying’, she will get into trouble.
They said too that the ranks even ended up mocking the victim and forced her to reveal details about her own sexual life with a boyfriend.
Calder reportedly left the police station that day in tears with the view that the ranks did not believe her story and doubted that she would get justice.
Later that evening, she ended her life, a development which resulted in the suspect being released from custody.
This newspaper understands that he has since left Guyana for a Caribbean territory.
However, Calder’s relatives are optimistic that justice will prevail.
When Kaieteur News made contact with the police force yesterday to seek clarity on the protocol used to interview rape victims, a senior officer related that throughout the years it is protocol for ranks to use the confrontational method when dealing with such cases.
However, he pointed, that there are instances whereby some ranks might go “overboard” because they are not equipped with the skill and knowledge to deal with sensitive matters.
In recent times, workshops were conducted with police ranks on the proper way to deal with rape and domestic violence matters.
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