US Tourists in Antigua Blame Police for Brawl

A group of New York tourists said Tuesday that a brawl they blame on plainclothes police officers in Antigua has turned their Caribbean holiday into a nightmare.

An Antiguan lawyer for the six tourists from Brooklyn - who were charged with assault after refusing to pay a cab fare they thought was unfair and then scuffling with officers - said his clients will plead not guilty at a hearing Wednesday.

One of the tourists, Shoshannah Henry, said the group was driven to a police station Friday by the driver of the taxi van when they refused to pay a $100 fare, which she said was twice what they believed they owed.

Henry alleged the plainclothes officers did not announce who they were and initiated the fight.

"We thought these people were trying to kill us," she said, alleging an officer punched her in the face during the scuffle.

Police could not be reached for comment Tuesday in Antigua, a former British colony that is economically dependent on tourism. A document filed by prosecutors in court Monday alleged that two officers were injured. Police have not commented on the incident.

Dudley Brutus said he was one of 12 tourists - all friends in their 20s - who were taken to the police station during a cruise ship stopover. He said half of the group were not detained because they did not get involved in the scuffle.

"Six people fought back and six of us took the beatings," Brutus said during a telephone interview after returning to New York. He said the group had not been drinking alcohol.

The six tourists facing charges were released on $5,000 bail each Monday. They have stayed with local Antiguans who volunteered to house them.

An officer from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados was expected to attend Wednesday's hearing.

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