by Gemma Handy
A Barbuda Council member being held in a US penitentiary after a violent incident apparently triggered by a mental breakdown will have access to appropriate medical staff.
The assurance came from the warden of the Northampton Department of Corrections in Easton, Pennsylvania, where Kendra Beazer is being held on US$500,000 bail.
The letter from David Penchishen to Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US, Sir Ronald Sanders, has been seen by Observer.
The 28-year-old, who is on a Fulbright scholarship, is accused of assaulting several police officers, attempting to disarm one, and resisting arrest. The officers were said to be escorting him to a voluntary mental health evaluation after he reportedly displayed erratic behaviour in a Bethlehem hotel.
Penchishen said he had notified the prison’s medical department regarding concerns raised by the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy about Beazer’s emotional wellbeing.
The warden added that an evaluation of Beazer’s mental state – and his potential release to a relevant health facility – would be ordered and scheduled by a court if requested by Beazer’s attorney.
In keeping with Covid protocols, Beazer will be quarantined for several days or until he receives a negative test result.
The young Barbudan now has access to a lawyer, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US Sir Ronald Sanders told Observer.
Sanders said he had formally written to the US State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the prison’s authorities to ensure Beazer was being adequately taken care of.
But he conceded that his capacity for further intervention was limited.
“If he has committed acts illegal under US law, there is a legal process to follow. The government of Antigua and Barbuda can’t use its influence in US law enforcement any more than the US should try to use its influence in Antigua and Barbuda’s enforcement of its laws,” the ambassador said.
“The only thing I can do is ensure he’s being treated properly and in accordance with international rules governing prisoners,” Sanders added.
Yesterday Beazer’s father Tyrone Beazer told Observer Radio he appreciated the support shown to his son by the local community, along with the government and Barbuda Council.
Beazer, a keen environmentalist, has been a Council member since 2017 and has held responsibility for agriculture, lands, fisheries and coastal protection. He is due to vacate his seat later this month.
Beazer left the country earlier this year to pursue a Master’s degree in environmental policy at Lehigh University under the Fulbright foreign student programme funded by the US government.
Barbuda’s MP Trevor Walker is among those to have spoken out in support of Beazer, calling into Observer Radio on Tuesday night to say the sister island’s residents were praying for him.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne also addressed the matter on Tuesday, acknowledging that mental health was a sensitive topic and confirming that the country was in discussion with stateside authorities.