It will be remembered as one of the most glaring incidents in recent times. News hit the airwaves on Thursday that four men were dead and one hospitalized as a result of a police shooting. As the day progressed, details on the incident began surfacing.
Around 2:30am on Thursday May 5, five men from La Clery, police reports say, attempted to burglarize the Beach Café in Vieux Fort, also known as Kitch’s Restaurant and Bar, opposite the Hewannorra International Airport. The STAR has been reliably informed the police received intelligence of the men’s activity and a task force was assigned to follow the men to their target in Vieux Fort.
The men entered the establishment and upon exiting, were intercepted by police. There was an exchange of gunfire. Two men were shot near the establishment while the others fled the scene aboard an awaiting vehicle. Police pursued and caught up to the men around the Sandy Beach area. In the end, the body count stood at four while one man is nursing a gunshot wound to his leg at the St Jude Hospital.
Dead are JnBaptiste Mc Farlane alias Epic, Mitchel Cadette alias Aparchie, Allan Lenny Louisy alias Alcapone and Myron Dupal. Kevin Ferdinand is said to be in a stable condition at the hospital.
Acting Commissioner of Police Vernon Francois and Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Crime and Intelligence Frances Henry were on the scene. Francois said this serves as further warning to criminals that police will extend their efforts beyond the city’s boundaries to ensure there is justice.
“We want to issue a warning to people who think they can leave Castries and go down the coast with the intention of committing crimes. We will pursue them wherever they go to. We’d like to thank the member of the public for providing us with information which led to the response of the police in this incident.”
Francois asserts that because of the pressure criminals are facing in the city under Operation Restore Confidence, they are attempting to take their activities to the out districts. However, he assures the public the police will remain infallible in their duties and their commitment to public safety.
So far for this year St Lucia has recorded ten fatal police shootings and twenty six homicides, leaving the public wondering whether justice was really served. Especially in the cases of police shootings, there are lingering questions as to the nature of the force used and whether the police were justified in their actions.
In her Senate Budget presentation, Commerce Minister Tessa Mangal reaffirmed her support for the Royal St Lucia Police Force. However, she says to allay public concerns and fears, the Inquest process must be reviewed or else the public is going to believe cops are “judge, jury and executioner.”
Currently, there are only two magistrates acting as Coroners for Inquests—Velon John and Michelle Louis. John deals with Inquests in the north and Louis is responsible for all Inquests in the south. John is also the magistrate for the Family Court and Louis presides over the D Court. This highlights one of the magistracy’s shortcomings.
During an Inquest, witnesses present evidence and a jury decides whether a police officer is liable and should be indicted.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Victoria Charles-Clarke, is the one to determine whether a matter should go through an Inquest. She does this after reviewing the file submitted by the police upon completion of their investigation.