Two of the four homicides recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines so far this year are at the hands of police officers on duty.
On Saturday, police confirmed that they fatally wounded a “mentally ill man” who they were trying to apprehend three days earlier.
The Police Public Relations and Complaints Department said in a statement that on Wednesday about 12:30 p.m., officers responded to a report by a resident of Long Piece, Lowmans Windward “of a mentally ill man armed with a weapon and was behaving [in an] aggressive manner.
“On arrival at the scene, the police met Mr. Errol Walker, of Long Piece, with several weapons. The police spoke to him and asked him to drop the weapons. Mr. Walker rushed towards the police and attacked them with a weapon. An officer sustained an injury to his face.
“In self-defence, an officer fired his weapon and injured Mr. Walker in his hand and abdomen.
Mr. Walker and the officer were taken to the Georgetown Hospital for medical attention. Walker was later pronounced dead by the District Medical Officer,” the statement said.
The statement further said that members of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) have been trained and continue to receive training “in dealing with patients suffering from mental health issues.
“These sessions are conducted by staff at the Mental Health Centre. In addition, the topic of Mental Health is part of the curriculum at the Police Training School.”
The statement said that Commissioner of Police, Colin John extends condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
It added that Thursday, the Divisional Commander of the South Central Division, Superintendent of Police, Trevor Bailey, and other officials visited the family of the deceased to express sympathy and show support as they mourn the loss of their relative.
“Following a thorough investigation into the matter, a coroner’s inquest may be held to ascertain the circumstances surrounding Mr. Walker’s death,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, On Jan. 1, Seage John of Ottley Hall/Layou, died after being shot by police.
Police said in a Jan. 3 statement that officers were conducting an operation in the Rose Place community on Jan. 1, during which a man who was armed with a gun fired shots at the police.
“The police returned fire and the gunman was shot in the process. He was transported to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) for medical attention. He was later pronounced dead by the District Medical Officer (DMO),” the statement said.
John’s family has held a protest in Kingstown and have questioned the police account of what happened.
The family, however, has chosen not to speak to the media, even amidst reports that an autopsy found that John did not die of gunshot injuries.
On Jan. 13, the police force issued a statement saying that the police chief and other members of the police high command, met with John’s mother, Oniesa John and his aunt at the Office of the Commissioner of Police.
“During the meeting, the commissioner extended condolences to Ms. Oniesa John and other family members on the death of her son. He gave an update on the status of the investigation process and informed the family that after the investigation is complete, a coroner’s inquest may be held to ascertain the circumstances surrounding John’s death,” the statement said.
“During the meeting, the John family raised several concerns about the incident. The commissioner assured the family that the matter would be thoroughly investigated. He also advised the family that if they so wish, they can seek independent legal advice in the matter.”
SVG recorded its fourth homicide for this year, when businessman Frankie Mitchell was shot and killed in Bequia on Saturday night.
The country recorded a record 42 homicides in 2022.