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RSLPF Under Fire Following Police Shooting

Commissioner Milton Desir [PHOTO: PhotoMike]
Commissioner Milton Desir [PHOTO: PhotoMike]
Law enforcement officials have come under fire from members of the public, after surveillance footage from a police shooting incident Saturday surfaced on Facebook.

According to a police report, about 11:40 p.m. on June 11, officers attached to the Special Services Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force referred a report to the Special Patrol Group.

The team, responsible for patrols of the communities of Marigot, Anse la Raye and Canaries, following an upsurge of violent crimes in the areas, were provided with information regarding the assault of and threats made against a police officer, in the Morne d’Or area.

“The mobile team was provided with the particulars of the motor vehicle on which the alleged offenders had left the scene and proceeded to attempt to locate the suspects. The Special Patrol Group encountered the same motorcar in Bois D’Inde, Jacmel, and proceeded to give verbal commands to the driver to stop,” the RSLPF noted in its report, adding that the driver failed to comply, steering the vehicle towards an officer, who had disembarked the marked police vehicle, in attempt to stop the vehicle.

“Rounds were discharged, in an effort to prevent injury to the officer and bring the vehicle to a halt. One male occupant was injured, as well as the officer who had attempted to stop the motorcar. The officer was treated at a local medical facility and subsequently discharged without life threatening injuries,” the RSLPF stated.

But members of the public, via Facebook, have since criticized the RSLPF for alleged misinformation, indicating that the Force failed to do its job.

Some individuals have even accused the RSLPF of protecting their own.

“I am concerned that a statement has been released which does not seem to correlate with an actual footage of the incident. This is very concerning,” one user stated on the RSLPF’s Facebook page, after the Force published the report online.

“The security footage contradicts this press statement. The driver did not steer the vehicle towards the officer. In fact, the vehicle was steered away from him. That tells me how untrustworthy the Force is,” another individual commented.

Prior to press time yesterday, the RSLPF had not responded to these comments.

However, in its report, the Force drew reference to videos being circulated online “of individuals appearing to confront officers and assist suspects after they were detained by officers.”

“We continue to strongly urge citizens to refrain from obstructing police officers during the conduct of their duties. Once efforts have been made to secure a scene, individuals must remain at a safe distance for the protection of officers, suspects, and civilians alike. Section 60 (2) (c) of the Police Act states that it is unlawful to assault, obstruct, resist, or incite another to assault resist or obstruct a police officer during the execution of his or her duty,” the RSLPF noted, adding that persons convicted for this offence may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months.

The Force also revealed that the Major Crime Unit has conduct of investigations, in keeping with standard operating procedures, related to police involved shootings.

The injured occupant of the motorcar left the Owen King European Hospital without being medically discharged. The two remaining occupants are currently in police custody.

Shortly before Saturday’s incident, a joint police operation was conducted in the south of the island.

About 120 police officers were deployed to conduct a series of targeted searches of residences, vehicles, and individuals on Friday, June 10.

The searches were executed in the town of Vieux Fort, but focused on areas such as Westhall Group, Bruceville, Bacaderre and Martin Luther King Street.

Criminal activity has soared through Vieux Fort of late, becoming a nuisance for residents. Many persons hope that the search will yield positive results, however some are still doubtful.

The operation, which commenced about 4:00 a.m. concluded hours later and was consistent with the mission – to seize illegal weapons and ammunition, illegally obtained currency and other contraband, arrest offenders, and bring them to justice. One male individual was apprehended for the offences of theft and burglary.

The activity was conceptualized after Commissioner Milton Desir met with divisional heads of the RSLPF. Desir had just returned to the island having attended the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP).

The operation included the utilisation of foot and mobile resources, as well as a Police Marine Unit there to provide coverage of the coastline, in the event of possible attempts to evade via boats.

“The recent situation within the southern sector remains a policing priority, and residents, visitors, as well as the business community, can be assured that resources will continue to be dedicated to the region, to restore stability,” the RSLPF noted in a statement.

The Commissioner of Police continues to urge members of the public to provide information on crimes and criminal intent as the Force continues in its efforts to arrest the mayhem that currently threatens communities.

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