COP: In war, there will be causalities
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Suggesting that suspects shot and killed last year were causalities of a war on crime in The Bahamas, Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson indicated yesterday that anyone who confronts police officers will more than likely meet their demise.
There were 20 police-involved shootings in 2018, according to police.
Eleven of those shootings were fatal.
Authorities did not confirm the number of police-involved shootings in 2017.
“In any war, there are causalities,” Ferguson said pointedly when asked about police-involved shootings during a press conference at police headquarters.
“If you are confronting the police, more than likely there will be causalities and there is a judicial part of the system that will adjudicate over that.”
Each police-involved shooting is investigated by Her Majesty’s Coroner, though there have been concerns in some quarters about the backlog in the Coroner’s Court.
Authorities released data on police-involved shootings following a request from the media during the commissioner’s annual ‘Meet the Press’ event at police headquarters.
Ferguson also suggested that authorities have been transparent about incidents where police shoot suspects. He said suspect confront officers and endanger their lives, officers take “necessary action”
“You have the numbers,” he said. “We have the numbers.
“We are not afraid to tell you how [many] persons were fatally shot by police.
“We report them in the press as they happen….”
In May, police shot and killed Deangelo Evans, 20, after he allegedly pointed a gun at officers.
The shooting triggered tensions in community with some residents on scene alleging that Evans was innocent.
According to police, officers responding to reports of an armed robbery at Burial Ground Corner and East Street received information that the suspects were spotted in the McCullough Corner area and went there.
They encountered two men who fit the description of the suspects, according to police, who said one of men pointed a gun at the responding officers.
The officers shot the armed man.
A pistol was recovered at the scene, according to police.
Following the incident, Centreville MP Reece Chipman called for a full report into the shooting of Evans, saying it would help to heal the community and help bridge the gap between residents and the police.
Her Majesty’s Coroner is tasked with investigating police-involved shootings.
Following six fatal police-involved shootings as of February last year, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames dismissed concerns over those incidents, saying police were responding in-kind to what they were encountering on the frontlines.
At the time, he also said the process was transparent, and stressed that police were not “arbitrarily taking people’s lives”.
He said whenever an officer wounds or kills someone, it must be justified.
He added that the public should look more closely at the circumstances in which police-involved shootings occurred, rather than scrutinizing statistics related to those incidents alone.
The minister has also noted that the acquisition of body cameras is expected to provide a greater degree of transparency going forward.
The police force has been testing body cams since late 2017.
Techadvance Limited was among the vendors which supplied the force with equipment, including body cameras for testing.
Ferguson’s policing plan for 2018 called for the acquisition of body cameras for officers and first responders.
When asked about the initiative yesterday, Ferguson said police were much closer to acquiring the equipment.
“We believe in being transparent so very, very soon you will see body cams being bought,” he said.
“We are very, very close to acquiring that. I spoke to you and I know you may say ‘commissioner, you were testing body cams for a little while’, but I can tell you that [we] are much closer today than it has been.”
He said the Ministry of National Security is expected to make a statement on that contract, thought he did not provide a timeframe.