By Demion McTair. Updated 8:29 p.m., Thursday, February 9, 2023, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
In 2022, this country recorded 42 homicides. This figure came from an official homicide count issued by the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force in a press release.
This figure is widely quoted by media houses, government officials, students conducting research, and members of the public.
Now, in February 2023, there seems to be some contention over One News SVG’s reporting of this country’s sixth (6th) homicide – a figure that also came from the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
Of particular concern in some circles is the non-reporting, in the official homicide count, of the deaths of two persons at the hands of the police during police operations.
On January 1, 2023, Seage John, of Ottley Hall/Layou was shot and killed during an operation by the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force in the West Kingstown community of Rose Place.
Police said: “During the operation, 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 second death is that of Errol Walker of Long Piece, Lowmans Windward which occurred in late January 2023.
Police said they responded to a call by a Lowmans Windward resident of a “mentally ill man” behaving aggressively.
Police said when they arrived at the scene, “they 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,” police said in a press release.
Our responsibility is twofold:
Firstly, we have to be responsible and use use the official count from the police.
Secondly, we also have a responsibility to question the official count from the police if we have reasonable grounds to believe that count to be inaccurate.
Have the police given us reasonable grounds to believe there is obfuscation relating the homicide count?
No. The police have always been clear about the homicide count.
What do we know so far?
Firstly, we know that there are six (6) reported homicides. There are also the two cases described earlier where two “armed” men lost their lives in police operations.
If police return fire and kill someone, is that counted as a homidice?
This answer may require legal expertise, but Oxford Bibliographies could provide some useful insight.
According to Oxford Bibliographies, The 8th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary defines homicide as “the killing of one person by another.” The killing of another, whether lawful or not lawful, is homicide; there is no “crime of homicide,” says Brian Garner in Black’s Law Dictionary.
Criminal homicide is divided into murder and manslaughter.
Justifiable homicide is divided into justifiable homicide by civilians such as self-defense, justifiable homicides by police, and state-sanctioned killings such as executions.
What may be confusing is that researchers frequently use the term “homicide” without distinguishing between murder and manslaughter. The research does, however, consistently distinguish between criminal homicide and justifiable homicides. As Black’s Law Dictionary goes on to point out, there are a variety of homicide laws that are not given much attention by researchers.
Should the deaths of the two “armed” men killed during police operations be counted in the official homicide count?
What say you? Can they be termed Justifiable homicides?
In the case of Mr. Walker, the man described as “mentally ill” who was killed by police, the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force said that a thorough investigation will take place into the matter and a Coroner’s Inquest may be held to ascertain the circumstance surrounding Walker’s death.
The police commissioner Mr. Colin John also sent condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
The six reported homicides (these are listed in the order in which they were reported):
The six reported homicides include the deaths of the following persons:
1. Mr. Selwyn Foye, 46, a farmer, of Carriere died on New Year’s Day. His death was recorded as the second gun-related death of 2023 and the first homicide.
2. The death of Mr. Frankie Gooding, 62 years old Businessman of the United States/Bequia was recorded as the country’s second homicide for 2023. He died after an unknown assailant shot him on January 21st in Bequia.
3. Mr. Randolph Carlos Joseph, 66, of Cedars was reported as the country’s third homicide. His body was found on January 19, 2023 with head injuries. A postmortem examination of the deceased revealed that he died as a result of blunt-force trauma.
4. The death of Daniel Isaacs, a 43-year-old man of New Montrose was reported as the fourth (4th) homicide recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for 2023. Reports indicate that on Sunday, 29th January 2023 at about 11:30 am, the deceased was at a shop in Sion Hill when amasked assailant approached and shot the deceased about his body.
5. The death of Ms. Altavea Billingy, a 28-year-old Caretaker of Chester Cottage was reported as the country’s fifth homicide. She was stabbed in the abdomen at about 9:45 pm on Saturday, February 4, 2023, at Grenville Street, Kingstown.
6. The death of Mr. Keron Hadaway, 28, a conductor of Edinboro was recorded as the country’s sixth (6th) homicide. According to reports, Hadaway was operating an omnibus on February 7 in Fire Hill, Ottley Hall, when he was approached by unknown assailant (s) who opened fire on the said vehicle.
Well researched, you have done a great job of explaining the differences. Other Media houses and the Police should take note of your Post.