Police Commissioner taken to task

Human Rights advocate, Mary Francis responded to comments made by Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois in Wednesday’s issue of the STAR regarding the July 31st shooting of a Dennery man. Francis says she does not agree with Francois’ comment stating that police officers should be given the benefit of the doubt.
“A homicide is a homicide, whether it is committed by a citizen or an officer of the state,” said Francis. “We don’t exist for the state; the state exists for the citizens, so we come before. The statements by the police commissioner are inconsistent where he said there were few witnesses and they have taken some statements. That should not prevent the putting together of a file. It has now been two weeks.”
Francis has been very vocal about the manner in which police officers have carried out their duties     in recent times and says she is now assisting the family of Dalton Greaves, the man shot by police in Dennery.                 According to Francis, there are at least five witnesses who are willing to give accounts of the incident.
“I don’t know whether they have done their probing but my understanding is that the officers who were involved in the incident saw the guys and they spoke with the witnesses who were there.
“There seems to be some sort of discrimination or inconsistency. In terms of gathering the evidence and letting the file be placed before the DPP. I find in cases of police homicides there is always dragging and a delay. If it was a citizen who had done the killing, that person would have been in court already and held behind bars.”
Responding to Francois’ statement which was quoted as follows in the August 15th issue of the STAR: “. . .people want the following day for someone to be hanged on the public square but it is not going to happen this way,” Francis says this is not what the family wants. She says, what the public has been crying for is a swift and thorough inquest into police homicides and the findings made known to the public.
“All we want to know is that the police take their work seriously, perform their duty to ensure that the file is placed before the DPP as soon as possible because the point is that the state does not exist for itself, the state exists for us the citizens.
“Furthermore, the state is governed by a Constitution and laws which are required to be consistent with the Constitution. The important point I always want to make when these things happen is that the Constitution also guarantees the right to life and lays down the circumstances where someone can be deprived of their life. The police probably always use this provision to say, okay, it is a police killing, it has to be justified,” said Francis.
The passionate lawyer continued explaining that the Coroner’s Act has not been enforced in situations where a homicide is being investigated. She says many years ago a Coroner would oversee the autopsy and inspect the dead body before filing a report but according to Francis, the practice has since been ceased in recent years.
“If there is delay in the investigation work, it means all the provisions of the Coroner’s Act are not complied with because the Spirit of the Act requires them to act swiftly. The Act states that that the Coroner must view the body but that is not happening.
“A delay means that witnesses will lose interest, family members may feel alienated; they don’t know what is going on.”
The local lawyer says she will fight to see justice done in this and other cases of this nature.

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