Caribbean resort worker’s family suing American tourist
The family of a Caribbean resort employee is suing an American tourist accused of manslaughter in the worker’s death.
The estate of 27-year-old Kenny Mitchel is suing Gavin Hapgood for damages, including money to help cover the cost of Mitchel’s funeral and wages he would have made had he survived, according to court documents filed in the United States District Court in Connecticut.
Connecticut financier Hapgood, 44, and his family were vacationing on the Caribbean island of Anguilla in April.
A statement from the Hapgood family says Mitchel, an employee at the resort, came to their room uninvited on the night of April 13 and a fight ensued in which Hapgood defended himself.
The statement said that the family’s “dream vacation turned into a chilling nightmare — a literal fight to survive.”
Hapgood faces a charge of manslaughter in Mitchel’s death, according to the Royal Anguilla Police Force. He was granted $75,000 bond and has since returned to the United States.
An autopsy released in April revealed the cause of Mitchel’s death was “prone restraint and positional asphyxia.”
There were also signs of blunt force trauma to the head, torso and abdomen, the report said. Hapgood’s family said he did not choke Mitchel.
A revised autopsy reported obtained by the New York Times in October found Mitchel had a lethal amount of cocaine in his system at the time of his death. CNN has requested a copy of the revised report from authorities in the Caribbean.
Hapgood’s defense team asked for a separate analysis of the new autopsy by Maryland Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. David R. Fowler, who came up with a similar finding.
“There are some serious questions why this prosecution … is continuing in the light of this conclusive evidence,” Juliya Arbisman, Hapgood’s attorney, told CNN.
The complaint filed in Connecticut says that “as a further direct and proximate result of the defendants battery, plaintiffs decedent was caused to suffer physical pain, emotional distress, and the complete and permanent loss of his ability to pursue all of life’s activities, including his ability to earn income to provide for himself and for his minor child.”
It also claims that “the plaintiffs estate incurred medical expenses, and the costs of funeral services and cemetery burial, all to its special loss and damage.”
A representative for Hapgood’s attorney said Hapgood had not yet been served with the complaint.