BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AFTER months in wait, police have finally released the findings of an investigation into the 2018 death of Tau Johnson.
The 20-year-old of Buckley’s Housing Project died on Saturday, July 7, 2018 following a police pursuit that ended on Wellington Road.
A post mortem performed by Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Valery Alexandrov on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 revealed that his death was due to a ruptured aorta sustained in the vehicular accident.
In layman’s terms, it meant that he died from massive internal bleeding due to a rupture of the main artery of the body that supplies oxygenated blood to the circulatory system.
A statement from the Police High Command however apologised for the delay in disseminating the findings of the investigation to the media.
“The High Command apologises for the delay in releasing this information. Upon receiving the report from the Director, there were certain legal stipulations which restricted the subsequent release of the same,” the statement read.
Following Johnson’s death, police had issued a press release stating that Johnson was riding a motorcycle when police officers on a vehicle patrol attempted to stop him in the vicinity of College Street Ghaut.
The officers had gotten out of the vehicle and signalled for Johnson to stop, but he did not. They returned to their vehicle and chased after him.
The release further stated that Johnson continued fleeing from the officers and, in the process, ran a red light at Baker’s Corner. However, at around 4:15 p.m. while driving along Wellington Road, he attempted to manoeuvre between vehicles, lost control of the motorcycle and fell.
Johnson was transported by a unit from the Emergency Medical Services to the Joseph N France Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
At the time of the incident, it was bandied that the patrol vehicle had made contact with Johnson or his motorcycle; an allegation that the police denied.
“Investigations so far have also revealed that the police vehicle maintained some distance behind Johnson while in pursuit. At no point in time did the police vehicle come into contact with Johnson or the motorcycle he was riding,” the release stated.
On the findings of the investigation, the Police High Command’s statement made reference to a report from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“In an official report received from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in late January 2019, it was stated that based on the evidence provided from the independent investigation and the CCTV footage, the vehicle driven by the police officer was not driven in a manner which posed a danger to the deceased or members of the public. The police was in pursuit of the deceased who failed to comply with a siren request to stop.”
“The report also confirmed that, ‘an independent vehicle examiner found no evidence that the vehicle made contact with the motorbike driven by the deceased’,” it added.
The statement further informed the report concluded that “on the evidence available, there is nothing to suggest any careless, reckless, or dangerous driving on the part of the police officer. It is not recommended that any criminal sanctions be brought against the officer involved”.
The Police High Command also took the opportunity to remind citizens and resident of the twin-island Federation of the institution’s motto.
“The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force continues to abide by its mission statement to uphold the law fairly and firmly, without fear or favour, to prevent crime, to pursue and bring to justice those who break the law, to keep the peace, to protect, help and reassure residents and visitors and to be seen to do all this with integrity and impartiality.”