KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, May 15, IWN – Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he will await a written report from Commissioner of Police, Keith Miller, before commenting on the shooting death of a prisoner by police inside a washroom at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The prisoner, Anthony “Scarface” Hamilton, who was recently released from prison after 17 years for rape, was in court to answer a robbery charge.
He was shot in the vicinity of the washroom of the court, located on the ground floor of a building in Paul’s Avenue.
Court reporter Ashford Peters, who saw Hamilton less than two minutes before he was shot, told the I-Witness News that the prisoner was in handcuffs as two police officers escorted him to the bathroom.
Peters also said that he saw part of Hamilton’s body shortly after he died but could not say whether the handcuffs were still on.
The experienced court reporter further said he was cautious about what he says lest he biases any potential legal proceedings.
“I don’t know if I should say it. But there are certain things… that I also observed, but, because I don’t know what might happen in terms of the investigation, I cannot say,” he told I-Witness News.
Gonsalves, speaking at a pre-scheduled press conference Tuesday afternoon, said that he had been briefed on the incident.
“I have been briefed broadly, that is to say, the name, identity of the person and very broadly the circumstances as to how he met his death. But I have not received a written report which I have requested, and which normally the Commissioner [of Police] will send,” he said.
He, however, told media workers and media audiences that the head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Assistant Superintendent of Police Sydney James, was leading the investigation.
“Naturally, he will have to interview all the people there. You will appreciate it is very recent,” he said at the press conference about six hours after the incident.
“It just happened today (Tuesday). So, before the Commissioner sends me the full report … that is what I am awaiting … to give me at least a preliminary assessment,” Gonsalves further said.
“It is unfortunate when any individual meets his death in a sudden or unnatural manner. And I speak like that as a human being,” the Prime Minister further stated.
“I think we all would, even though the person may have certain antecedents which may not predispose you to be their friend, that you would nevertheless feel saddened because a human life is lost in a tragic manner, in a sudden, unnatural way and that, I think is the most I can say at the moment, really,” he further said.
A Kingstown court had recently freed Hamilton of a charge that he had threatened the life of Gonsalves.
Reports on Tuesday said he had tried to escape.
Just before the shooting, Hamilton was being escorted to the bathroom and had been in the holding area of the Serious Offences Court, located on the first floor of the same building, reports say.
Hamilton’s death brings to four the number of persons shot by police over the past 10 days.
The three other persons, two revellers at a rural carnival event and a man who police say escaped from a station during questioning, survived their injuries.