Kenson King. (iWN file photo)

The prison officer who was, in May, detained for over 36 hours without charge over a post he allegedly made on Facebook and whom Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves reportedly later threatened with a defamation lawsuit has been arrested and charged with wounding a prisoner.

iWitness News was reliably informed that Kenson King, 33, of Park Hill, will appear in court today, Thursday, charged with wounding a prisoner.

He was arrested on Wednesday and the charges brought against him.

A source familiar with the development told iWitness News that King has not denied striking the prisoner but said that he did so in self-defence after the prisoner slapped him.

The source said the process through which the charge was brought against King raises a number of questions.

iWitness News understands that when there is an alleged misdeed by a prison officer, the prison authorities would conduct an investigation and recommend further action, if any.

However, in King’s case, iWitness News was reliably informed that a private citizen, a lawyer who is a relative of the prisoner, wrote to the police requesting an investigation.

iWitness News understands that a senior police officer conducted “an investigation” and decided to charge King, “thus bypassing the regular process”.

King, who has been a prison officer for 15 years, is a vocal critic of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party administration.

King is a resident of North Central Windward, which the prime minister represents in Parliament.

He made headlines in May when police showed up at his workplace, Her Majesty’s Prisons in Kingstown, on May 22 and escorted him to police headquarters where he was kept in custody for more than 30 hours then released without charge.

King was arrested, reportedly in connection with a Facebook post that referred to the failure of police to act, in January, against licenced firearm holder Mitch Israel whose wife had complained to police and reported that he had threatened to use the weapon to kill her.

Israel-Taylor was shot and killed in Kingstown a few days later, on Jan. 29 and her husband has been charged with murder in connection with her death. 

Noting Taylor-Israel’s death, the Facebook post that led to King’s arrest in May had further said that a politician had allegedly ordered the return of licenced firearms to a man who had threatened to kill his relatives in Park Hill.

Searchlight newspaper later reported that lawyers for Gonsalves, citing the Facebook post, had written King, demanding that he donate half of one month’s salary to the Zero Hunger Trust Fund (ZHTF) or be sued for defaming the prime minister.

The lawyers are also said to have asked the Vincentian newspaper to issue an apology and donate EC$10,000 to the ZHTF to avoid a defamation suit. 

iWitness News understands that weeks after the Searchlight article was published, King had not received any communication from the prime minister or his lawyers regarding the alleged demand. 

But King was back in the news again in June when he used a Youth Voices forum organised by the main opposition New Democratic Party to call on the nation’s youth to rebel against the Gonsalves-led ULP administration. 

“Young people, old people, but especially the young people, Rebel. Rebel against 46% youth unemployment. Rebel against being told that the NDP has no plans and cannot do better. So stay with the devil you know. Get rid of the devil. We already see the evil of these devils… Let us exorcise them. Let us bring blessings. Dare to rebel, my people; dare to rebel,” King told the virtual forum, which was broadcast on social media and radio.

In December 2017, police took King in for questioning saying he had attempted to run the prime minister’s convoy off the road.

However, King denied being reckless in his attempt to overtake the prime minister’s two-vehicle convoy between New Grounds and Diamond on Wednesday.

He told iWitness News then that if anyone was reckless in the encounter it was the driver of the prime minister’s security escort vehicle, which he said cut him off several times when he (King) attempted to overtake after ensuring that the road ahead was clear.

Gonsalves later told the media that he was unaware, until told, of the incident. “… I don’t even know what was happening behind me,” he told a Jan. 2, 2018 press conference.

10 replies on “Embattled prison officer charged with wounding inmate”

  1. This smells of a setup to me. They couldn’t charge him with anything so now a prisoner slapped him and he slapped them.back and he is arrested? Come on it is obvious what this is.

  2. Wherever there is a dictatorship in power there has always been an abuse process to be encountered by the citizenry!

    Immediately comes to mind is the Venezuelan dictatorship, where the level of abuse results in gross extra judicial killing, particularly in the poor areas. Therefore let us not be surprise by these events.
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/09/18/venezuela-extrajudicial-killings-poor-areas

    The now infamous Venezuelan regime of Maduro is a regime that our Vincentian regime is in close contact with and thus gives particular support to. May we say that “Birds of a feather do flock together”! True!

    According to that well-known news organisation Reuters, Police spreads terror in the barrios of Venezuela. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/venezuela-violence-police/ True facts!

    The salient question for us Vincentians this time is; HOW DID WE ALLOW OURSELVES to get down this frightening road? Were we not handed what were the benefits of Magna Carta and the other values of a mature democracy. A democracy like that of the UK, our once colonial masters? What went wrong?

    Indeed, from these on goings: How long would it be before the values of grubby dictatorships are allowed to become the very norm in St Vincent and the Grenadines? What then? Who would have failed us? Would our tolerance of a dictatorship be our very undoing or just pure illiteracy? What or who brought us here?

    “Venezuela Forces Killed Thousands, Then Covered It Up, U.N. Says”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/04/world/americas/venezuela-police-abuses.html

  3. Hashtag Prince says:

    Shaking my head!!!! Not surprised at all.
    They are trying to destroy another citizen of the soil because he expressed his views.
    I believe this was a set-up.

    …”a lawyer who is a relative of the prisoner, wrote to the police requesting an investigation.”
    Hummhm…the Combad is a lawyer too, who has association with others.

    A plot to destroy another hard-working VincentIan who gave 15+ years of service to Her Majesty’s Prisons.
    And we advocate for Black Lives Matter and African Reparations. What a farce, pure hypocrisy!

    SVG wake up, the system is not for you.
    It was changed under your feet….for the Combad ‘n Crew.
    Time for Change!!!

  4. I sometimes wonder how some people in SVG does sleep at night and if they praying what GOD are they praying to.

  5. I had decided not to write any thing on this news site. because they don’t believe in democratic expression.When you do that they don’t print your story. All l have to say that the outcome of this Case can see the down fall of this administration believe me when I say this time is changing so to people.

  6. Bill Johnney says:

    I guess this one will be political to. After all you are a corrections officer. In a prison system, officers will always be assaulted, but it’s how you react after being assaulted, you cannot take matters into your own hands and go on to wound your prisoner. There are matters which the prison handle internally but a matter where it is alleged that a prisoner wound an inmate is not an internal matter and one which should be handled internally, it’s a criminal matter and one which must be investigated by the police. Wounding is a serious offense which on summary conviction can land you in prison for 2 or 5 years or on indictment can land you in prison for 10 years.

  7. Bill I am an ex cop and prisoners hir me many times and I hit them hard as hell .My question to u Bill what would you do if it was you there prisoner slapped?Was this event planned ?Thanks

    1. Please be aware that St.Vincent and the Grenadines is in some ways similar to Haiti where” Papa Doc and later Baby Doc ruled Haiti supreme. St.. Vincent to me should be called “little Haiti” now being ruled by papa Gonsalves and soon by baby Gonsalves. Don’t forget the man behind the throne, Julian Francis- the engine. Three blind mice see how they rule.

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