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Immigration department investigating video of officer striking man

The Department of Immigration is investigating a video that depicts an immigration officer hitting a man in the head, according to Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson.

In the video, which was circulated on social media, three immigration officers are seen attempting to restrain a man wearing a white shirt with pink, blue and yellow patterns.

One of the officers then hits the man in the back of the head before shouting, “Bey, don’t play with me, hear.”

The officer continues, “Boy, catch yourself. Boy, catch yourself.”

On Saturday, when reached for a comment, Johnson reverted to Director of Immigration Clarence Russell.

“I am presently off island,” he said.

“The director of immigration is investigating this matter.”

Russell could not be reached up to press time.

The man in the video has been identified as Evince Gaston, 31.

He said he works for the Bahamas Telecommunication Company (BTC).

Gaston said the incident took place at a shantytown, off Joe Farrington Road, shortly after noon on Friday.

“I was doing my job,” he told The Nassau Guardian.

“He (the officer) just turns back [around] and asked me for [immigration] papers. I always left my wallet in the van, inside the BTC van.”

Gaston said he was scared by the way the officer approached him.

“He come to me aggressively. I showed him the BTC ID,” said Gaston, who claims he has Bahamian residency.

“He said, ‘But, that ain’t what I need.’ I said, ‘Okay.’

“When I tried to move, to go in the van to show him my documents, he just punched me. When he hit me, I fall down. Before I fall down, I grab him because I don’t want to fall down.”

Gaston said he was thrown onto an immigration bus and taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre where he was kept for “three or four hours”.

Last month, a United Nations (UN) official visited The Bahamas to, among other things, verify “worrying” claims of “violence and abuse” used by Bahamian law enforcement officers.

On November 26, the immigration minister said that the government takes claims of abuse against migrants or anyone seriously but warned people to be wary of sharing information that is “dead wrong”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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