A social media activist has filed a lawsuit against former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith for misfeasance in public office, over an incident in which he was interviewed by police over a social media post related to the investigation into the abduction and murder of Judiciary clerk Andrea Bharatt.
Lawyers representing Alan Brizan, of Guaico, Sangre Grande, signalled his intention to sue Griffith in May, but only filed the lawsuit on Wednesday.
The dispute stems from a post that Brizan, a former newspaper cartoonist and graphic artist, made on his Facebook page on February 9.
In the post, Brizan noted that Bharatt was dead, two suspects detained by police were brutally killed, and that the T&T Police Service (TTPS) including Griffith were distorting the facts that were being disseminated to the public.
Within 10 minutes of the post, Griffith alleged responded via direct message and questioned Brizan over whether he had information or evidence of a cover-up and whether he would be willing to make an official report.
A short while later, Griffith allegedly posted on Brizan’s public wall advising Brizan that he should provide evidence to justify his accusations.
Brizan eventually responded via direct message by saying that he supports fact-finding in support of police information and that he lived in Sangre Grande.
Brizan claims that Griffith responded by complaining that he (Brizan) had claimed that Griffith distorted facts on the investigation and that he (Griffith) would consider bringing a defamation lawsuit.
Griffith also claimed to have relayed Brizan’s post to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), who was conducting an independent investigation.
Brizan then partially edited his post in relation to the distortion of the facts to state that there were significant contradictions in the information concerning the facts of the case. He also thanked Griffith for his contribution.
Brizan was then contacted on his cellphone by a police officer, who expressed interest in interviewing him.
Brizan claimed that he acceded to the request as he felt afraid that he would be charged with wasting police time.
Brizan claimed that he repeatedly denied that he had any information in relation to Bharath’s investigation and suggested that the interview be conducted over the phone.
The officer claimed that he would prefer a physical interview and Brizan provided his address.
The officers came to his home and interviewed him for three hours in his wife’s presence.
He claimed that after the interview was completed, he corrected and signed a transcript.
He admitted that since the interview he was not contacted by the officers.
In the lawsuit, Brizan is claiming that the interview constituted false imprisonment.
“The Commissioner, through his agents Inspector Silvan and Police Officer Adrian Smith, intentionally caused the Claimant to be unlawfully detained for approximately three hours, where there was no reasonable and probable cause for the Claimant’s detention,” his lawyers said, as they claimed that Griffith was malicious in initiating the investigation.
They also claimed that Griffith’s action breached their client’s constitutional right to freedom of thought and expression.
“As a result of the trespass to his person, the breach of his constitutional rights and the misfeasance in public office the Claimant has suffered loss of his liberty, injury to his feelings, injury to his proper sense of dignity and pride, mental suffering, disgrace, humiliation and loss of social status,” they said.
Through the lawsuit, Brizan is seeking compensation for the alleged breaches and a declaration that his constitutional right was infringed.
Brizan is also being represented by Christophe Rodriguez, and Joash Huggins and Kimaada Ottley.