Justice must not only be done but must also be manifestly be seen to be done.
This is a phrase that is often used by persons in the legal profession with respect to cases involving their clients as they seek justice for them at whatever level of the court – Magistrate, High Court, Court of Appeal or the British Privy Council.
THE NEW TODAY would like to apply the lawyer’s phrase to the recent shooting incident involving members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) attached to the Sauteurs Police Station and one Daniel Gilbert of Marli, St. Patrick.
This newspaper is convinced that there is more that meets the eye than the simple press release issued by the Community Relations Department of the police force about the fatal shooting on Tuesday morning.
This paper has reliable information that the deceased who was deemed to be “mentally challenged” by the Police had visited the Sauteurs Police Station on numerous occasions over the years to complain of acts of provocation against him by the children of a now retired police officer who was attached to the same station.
It would be interested to see if anything was ever recorded in the Police Station Diary about the complaints made by Gilbert.
THE NEW TODAY was told that the deceased was often treated with scant courtesy and chased away from the station by police officers on the grounds that he was “mad”.
It is very unfortunate the way some people in Grenada are disrespected because of their status in society including family background, profession and lack of financial resources.
If Gilbert had come from any of the popular household names in Lance Aux Epines, Fort Jeudy and Westerhall Point, he and his complaints would have been dealt with quite differently by some police officers.
This newspaper holds the view that any proper investigation into the death of the deceased should include a thorough background check into those alleged reports made to the Sauteurs Police Station about acts of provocation by persons related to the ex-police officer.
Did any of the persons complained about in the past interfered with him on the day that he pulled the cutlass and chased after some individuals? Are any of them related to the ex-police officer?
If there are no records in the Police Diary about the complaints then the public also has a right to know why no records were made.
Did the police refuse to record anything because the complaints were made against the children of a police officer who are now young adults?
Gilbert might have been certified as “mentally challenged” but he still had certain rights and privileges as a citizen of this country.
And the State had a right and responsibility to ensure that these rights were never violated by anyone including arms of the State like the police.
Maybe the time has come for RGPF to revisit the protocol that is in place for police officers to respond to incidents involving mentally challenged persons in the country.
A forward thinking Commissioner of Police would see the need to take a look once more to ascertain whether or not changes are not needed at this point in time.
The protocol that might have been effective and workable 20 years ago, can now be considered quite inappropriate, inadequate and totally unnecessary in the ever changing world around us.
It was disclosed last week in the United States that the use of camera equipment by police officers on patrol has helped to minimise allegations of police brutality against civilians.
Grenada might not have the financial resources to film all operations by the police but the police force must constantly be looking at ways of improving its service to the public and becoming more professional and efficient as a unit of the State.
THE NEW TODAY is hopeful that a proper investigation will be conducted into the fatal shooting of Gilbert and all the circumstances surrounding it.
Mr. Commissioner, there is already reports that some attempt is being made to “cook up” the shooting that took place in Springs, St. George’s on September 24 involving a member of the Drug Squad.
The word on the ground is that a scheme was hatched to make it look a particular way – the policeman was forced to fire his weapon because the other person was armed with a cutlass.
The public is looking on. It is the same public that should be the “ears and eyes” of the police force in providing critical information to be used in solving crimes.
The current officers enlisted in the force have a duty to ensure that nothing is done to lose the confidence of the public because Grenada will be the biggest loser.