Opposition politician Bernard Wyllie says coroner’s inquests into sudden and unnatural deaths should be conducted without the prompting of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
Speaking on radio on Friday, Wyllie welcomed the call by the prime minister for the coroner’s inquest into the Feb. 6 death of teen motorcyclist Cjea Weekes, 18, to be held “very quickly”.
Wyllie, however, noted that such an inquest is yet to be held into the April 26, 2020 shooting death of detective Sergeant Philbert Chambers, 30, and Gleason Lewis, 36, who is alleged to have killed him.
Police said they shot and killed Lewis after he killed Chambers and shot and injured Constable Verrol Sam as they attempted to conduct a raid on his Campden Park home.
Weekes was taken to hospital on Feb. 2 after he was injured reportedly as he was chased by police while riding his motorcycle.
He became paralysed from the chest down on Feb. 4, two days before he died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
“It was painful and the pain of his death continues to ring out,” said Wyllie, a former MP for Marriaqua who failed to retake the seat for the New Democratic Party in the 2020 general elections, after a two-decade break.
“I was heartened to see that a call is being made for a coroner’s inquest into his death,” he said on Friday of the prime minister’s comments two days earlier.
“We know how he died. We know he was chased until he is no more. The question is, what are the circumstances and who are the ones who are responsible,” Wyllie said.
Wyllie also spoke of Chambers’ death, saying, “we don’t know how he died either; we have all kinds of stories. We would like to know how Cjea died.
“One of the things that disturb me is that you have to wait until the prime minister puts his mouth into something before something can happen.
“Why can’t the law and those responsible for discharging matters of law and justice work independently, based on the laws that are on the book?” Wyllie said.
“… If the chief of police cannot ascertain the reasons for the death of someone and the Director of Public Prosecution, why can’t they, along with the attorney general, initiate a coroner’s inquest to get to the truth of the matter without the prime minister getting involved?
“This situation is bringing us into a problem here because it seems as if we have a strongman country. It’s only one person’s voice is heard. Why can’t it just flow naturally? Why can’t all be treated equally before the law?” Wyllie said.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, lawyer for Lewis’ parents, Mr. & Mrs. Glasley Lewis, said her clients “are still very upset” about their son’s death.
She said she wrote the chief coroner, Rechanne Browne, who responded, saying she could only conduct an inquest until the file is sent to her.
The lawyer said she wrote the prime minister, the attorney general and commissioner of police, who said they were still investigating.
“And up to now, no one has answered and there has not been a coroner’s inquest.”
She said that the Lewises “are still very upset”.
“They are not satisfied. It is clear that nothing is going to happen because we can’t mandate the coroner’s inquest. It has to come from the powers that be, either through the police or attorney general or what have you, so that somebody would send the file to the magistrate so that it can be done,” Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News.
Commissioner of Police Colin John old iWitness News on Sunday that the file regarding the investigation into the death of Chambers and Lewis has been submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.