Just when you think the police are on the road to recovery from a very negative image painted by “a few bad cops” another shooting incident involving a police officer has once again sparked much public debate over excessive use of force and weapons by the police.
This time, Dennery residents cry out for answers regarding the death of Dalton Greaves, who was allegedly shot after he fled the scene when he saw lawmen approaching the fishing complex in an attempted raid.
According to three men who claim they were confronted by the police, Greaves was unarmed when he was shot.
Pius Alphonse, one of the three men says at about 2:00am early Tuesday he made his way down to the fisheries complex to only notice his friend, Greaves already at the bay. Alphonse says no sooner had the police arrived than his friend, Greaves begun to run away.
“When Darius saw the police, he ran. When he ran, that’s when the police started firing shots after him. The police fired three shots after him. I saw him fall to the ground and then the police officer ran toward him. About three seconds later, I heard the sound of a gun go off.
“They made us kneel down with our hands on the wall. Then the ambulance came and after about half an hour or so, the ambulance took the dead body away,” said Alphonse.
“I don’t know the reason for the police coming in the area but Dalton did not have any weapon. He was just scared and he ran. I just want to know why they shot Dalton.
“There were no bullets being fired at them; they could have just come and arrest us and do what they have to do without having to kill. They have no right to shoot and kill the man.”
Uncle of the deceased, Kimron Cox says the mother of the victim has not been able to handle the death very well. He says when the news came to her, “she has been going crazy.” Greaves, he says was a “cool boy.”
“He was always going to sea. He was a quiet boy who never carried any weapons or knives with him. Yes, he has been one or two fights here and there but as a kid, everyone would have their little fights.
“But last night I was sleeping when I heard three shots go off. Then I heard another one, so that is four in all. I then woke up to head down to the bay.
“I saw there was an ambulance there, therefore, I tried to find out what was going on. I asked one of the guys they arrested who told me they just killed my nephew. I asked one of the guys driving the ambulance whether my nephew is dead and he answered, ‘yes, he is dead’. They wrapped him with yellow plastic bag and they went away with him. I really don’t understand why the police had to kill him,” said Cox.
Meanwhile, authorities have remained quiet so far on the details of the matter which they say is being investigated.
Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois says his reaction to the matter is no different from past incidents involving his police officers. He says a full investigation of the incident is being carried out and he is awaiting the outcome of that investigation before making any sound statements.
However, the top cop did say this: “We have had incidents like that in the past and generally we ask our police officers to go out there and perform their function which is a very difficult task for them. While most of us are asleep at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, they are on the road trying to deal with the crime and drug situation that we are faced with.
“Obviously, to be able to make judgments of that nature you have to be physically present. A number of us speak about it in general terms but we are seldom present when it happens. So it is up to the police officer based on the situation that he is confronted with, he will act.
“Now, the actions of police officers are always subject for review, so what we need to ensure is that when the incident has taken place, what we
need to have is a proper system in place to review the actions of the police officer and for us to move forward.
“It is not proper affair for us to be making judgments about cases of that nature without having the full facts,” said Francois.
Up until press time, no official word was released by the Royal St Lucia Police Force on the matter. Last year, four suspects were shot a killed in Vieux Fort during an operation restore confidence directive that foiled a robbery attempt.
Update from Police (August 6):
“On Tuesday 31st July 2012, about 3:00 am, a combined operation between the Drug Unit and Task Force of the Royal St.Lucia Police Force was conducted at Dennery.
“During the operation, the Officers encountered Twenty-eight year old Dalton Greeves of Dennery.
“During the encounter he sustained a gunshot wound and was transported to St.Jude’s Hospital, where he succumbed to his injury.
“A quantity of Cannabis, as well as an L380 Pistol with six live rounds of ammunition was recovered during the operation.
“A post Mortem examination was conducted on the body of Dalton Greeves on Thursday 2nd August, 2012. The examination revealed that Greeves died from Hemorrhagic shock secondary to a single gunshot wound
“Investigations into the matter are ongoing.”
—Source RSLPF Public Relations Office