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“Oh God mammy, oh God daddy”

Attorney-at-law Jerry Edwin – was retained by the family in the shooting incident

Statement made by U.S-trained attorney-at-law Jerry Edwin at a press conference held Monday on the compound of the Gouyave Police station in the shooting incident involving national footballer Jamal Charles at the hands of a Corporal of Police.

Good afternoon,

This afternoon, despite the rain, we are at the Gouyave Police Station and when I say we – I refer to the mother of the young man who was shot in Gouyave yesterday by a policeman name Corporal (Name withheld).

We are at the police station giving our respective statements – I should say that my clients are giving their respective eyewitness statements as to what happened on the early Sunday morning at Gouyave.

The mother is Willian Charles, the father of the injured young man is also here as well as his brother who is giving a statement and two other eyewitnesses.

At around 6.16 on Sunday morning on Longdon Road in Gouyave – that is the part of the town of Gouyave that is known as Gun Battle – at around that time Willian Charles awoke to a number of officers on her front porch – not in her verandah but in her yard, coming up her stairs.

And she asked them, can I help you because they had been there a couple a weeks ago looking for her eldest son.

And she asked them – can I help you? There were three of them – one of them said we are here to speak to your son and she said can you tell me why – the officers did not reply.

Instead, one of the female officers tried to push open the gate that led on to her veranda. And like any good responsible homeowner Ms. Charles tried to close her door.

There were words exchanged between the female officer and Ms. Charles who said, you cannot come into my house if you do not have a warrant to come in. The female officer insisted on coming in and Ms. Charles said, no, you cannot come into my house.

Shortly afterwards she was joined by her eldest son who said, well you cannot come into this house. There were words changed again – just words… you cannot come into my house.

Shortly afterwards, Jamal, Ms. Charles’ younger son came outside – opened the door from the mother’s house as he heard the commotion and he wanted to know what’s going on.

Well barely had he said those words when a gun shot was fired in his direction. Actually, the mother screamed in fear because she thought she was going to be injured.

Look at the circumstances – Ms. Charles was standing in front of her son more than 6 feet away. The officer we are told who shot Jamal was at least six feet away. There was no interaction, no treat, no attempt by Jamal to lunge or to cause the officer any harm.

Soon as Jamal came out of his mother’s house to ask what is this commotion here in the morning a little after 6.15 – soon as he emerged from the house – the officer who was not even in the verandah, not on the landing but on a stair/treddar, leading up to the landing outside of the verandah, drew and fired his weapon at the young man.

In fact the mother’s fear was that she as I indicated earlier on that she had been shot. Except she turned around and ….. she heard her son say, oh God mammy, oh God daddy and then he collapsed in a pool of blood. You can understand how emotional that is.

Imagine she is here with me (at Gouyave Police Station) and really does not want to relive this but Jamal was shot by a policeman who was at least 6 feet away from him – not even close.

He was no threat to the officer and so, simple as it sounds – and that’s the truth of what happened. That’s the manner in which young Jamal found himself on a hospital bed at the General Hospital with a bullet in his upper thigh fired from the gun of Officer (Name Withheld).

I must say that Superintendent Curwen, head of the Community Relations Office, as well as the Commissioner – they have assured the family, they have assured me that an investigation has swiftly begun.

But I want to point out something that I think we should critique going forward that is – where there is a police shooting in the future I would like to suggest that the policeman without any finding of culpability or liability on the part of that officer – he should be suspended with pay – mind you – because there’s no finding by anybody, any group, any organisation that that officer has committed any wrong because he has not, at least so far an investigation has not done that.

In our business in the law, it is important that justice, not simply be done but it must be seen to be done.

So I think that an officer in the future and this is a recommendation I would humble suggest that the Commissioner’s office consider – suspend the officer, take his firearm and put him on leave. I think it is correct here that the officer is then put on administrative duties.

The other thing that I have a problem with and I think the public too – is the process that allows the police to investigate themselves. The police should not be investigating this.

We have a Director of Public Prosecutions who should be able to put together independent investigators to look into police shootings whenever they occur. I think that’s the best process we should follow.

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