Corrections officers concerned about ‘double standards’

Officers attached to the Bordelais Correctional Facility took a tough stance on Thursday, January 12, in support of a colleague who recently made headlines for the shooting of three civilians in Castries. Several uniformed corrections officers gathered outside the courthouse following a tip that one of their own would face charges.
The officer maintains that the shooting was a move of self-defense when he was threatened by an ex convict, according to prison director Hilary Herman, but more than one eyewitness has disputed claims that the shooting victim wielded a weapon on Monday morning. A police press statement sent out to the media read in part: “Reports indicate that [name deleted] an officer attached to the Bordelais Correctional officer discharged a round at Kharli Alexander who allegedly attacked him with a metal object.”
The shooting left two other victims, 30-year-old Nadia Johnny who’d been inside the courthouse at the time and Roger Henry, a by-stander, nursing gun shot wounds. Johnny’s family has since made an appearance on HTS news where they expressed dissatisfaction that she was left at hospital suffering alone after the ordeal and feel law enforcement should have attempted to contact the family and stayed with her until they arrived. The family questioned who would be responsible for her exorbitant hospital bill of around $15,000.
Speaking to Hilary Herman, to determine the rationale behind their “demonstration” the Bordelais director said the whole idea behind the large number of uniformed prison officers in the city center on Thursday was a move of support
for their colleague who
was scheduled to make his first court appearance that day.
“We got word that our correctional officer who was in the incident on Monday would probably be charged on Thursday by the police and what you saw was an exercise of support where the Bordelais Correctional Officers Association and staff came down just for moral support for Mr smith,” Herman explained. “He
was not charged so
obviously the investigation continues. Apparently police are still investigating but we were told he would have likely been charged on Thursday.”
While prison officers made their presence felt near police headquarters, Rufinus James from the Correctional Officers Welfare Association expressed dissatisfaction in the way the corrections officer in question was being treated, especially considering what he called “the tardiness of the process.”
Hilary Herman shared his thoughts on how police were handling the matter: “I can’t say anything about it. I don’t know what the police are doing. We’re actually looking for them to tell us where he stands. That’s why you saw the support because we don’t really know where he stands.”
The facility director revealed that one of the main reasons for their stance was to ensure there was no double standard when it came to police officers and other law enforcement agents faced with similar circumstances.
“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” he told the STAR. “I don’t know that, I haven’t seen that, but that’s why we’re trying to find out what exactly it is. We want to make sure there’s one standard for law enforcement agencies.
“We don’t know if he’s being charged, what he’s being charged with and those are the things that concern us,” he continued. “We just want to make sure there is
one standard; not one for police and another for the other law enforcement agents. That’s why the majority of staff were down there.”
The man is reportedly assisting police with the investigation and when asked about his stance on the incident the director responded: “It’s unfortunate when anything like that happens but it’s the nature of the job. He felt he was threatened by an ex convict, his story is that he tried to defend himself. If that’s the way it went then we fully support him.”
According to Herman, the incident has united the facility in ways no other occurrence has managed to. Over 100 prison officers work at the facility and Herman confirmed that those who were part of the demonstration this week were off duty.
“We’ve had a history of division within the ranks but this is one incident that has united them one hundred percent and I hope to capitalize on that,” the Bordelais director said. “We spoke to Kharli Alexander on Thursday at Victoria Hospital. He’s in stable condition. He’s in intensive care alive and well. We’re concerned about the two by-standers who wound up being part of the
collateral damage. We’ve spoken to one of them but the other young woman has secured the use of an attorney so we couldn’t talk to her. We’re monitoring the situation and we’ll see what we can do to help. We hope to support the officer until he’s charged. We’re there to support him to see where the case goes.”
Frances Henry, assistant commissioner of police in charge of crime made it clear the investigation was standard procedure in determining whether
there was criminal liability in the matter. She noted that all citizens were treated equally and law enforcement officers were not above the law.
“It’ s fair assumption if you’re a law enforcer your responsibility is much higher so we’re hoping our officers would not engage in acts of criminality, but when that happens we also afford them the same courtesy as if it was the common man on the street.”
In an interview on RCI’s NewsSpin yesterday Henry called for all invloved to allow due process.
“This matter must go to tribunal with all the facts presented and a decision made,” she said.

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