BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – A member of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) was slapped with four criminal charges over an incident involving a civilian.
A statement from the Police High Command said that in August 2018, the Office of Professional Standards of the RSCNPF had launched a probe into the actions of Constable Tarique Jones, who was accused of improperly holding and harming an individual.
The incident occurred on Friday, August 24, 2018 and had involved Samari Webbe.
On conclusion of its probe, the Office of Professional Standards proposed several internal charges be laid against Constable Jones and recommended that a criminal investigation be launched into the matter.
The case, according to the statement, was then handed over to the Violent Crimes Unit.
Upon completion of that Unit’s investigation, the case was sent to the Director of Public Prosecution for further direction. As a result, in December 2019, a number of criminal charges were brought against Constable Jones.
On Sunday (Dec. 15) Jones was charged with Wounding with Intent and Possession of a Firearm with Intent to Endanger Life. And on the following day, he was also charged with Kidnapping and Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice.
“The High Command of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force has always assured the public that no one is above the law, Police Officers included. We aim to ensure that all reports made against an Officer are thoroughly and impartially investigated. While Policing is a very demanding and stressful occupation, we urge our Officers to always perform their duties within the ambit of the law. Notwithstanding this, we also urge the public to allow the justice system to take its natural course,” the statement read.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, August 28, 2018, police had issued a press release stating that an investigation into the circumstances involving “a person who was shot and injured while in Police custody is currently underway”.
It also said that sometime Friday morning, August 24, 2018, Samari Webbe, also known as ‘Storm’, was taken into police custody for questioning in relation to an ongoing search operation for wanted man Vincent Taylor.
The release further said preliminary investigations had revealed that at some point during the questioning, one of the officers turned to speak with another and Webbe rushed towards that officer and held on to his firearm in an attempt to take it away.
“A scuffle ensued and Webbe was shot in the shoulder. He was rushed to the JNF Hospital for medical attention by the officers where he is currently receiving treatment,” the press release further said.
The release however did not indicate where the shooting incident occurred.
However, on Saturday, August 25, 2018, in a video that circulated on on social media sites, Webbe was seen on a bed at the JNF General Hospital with injuries to upper part of his body.
In that video, Webbe;s explanation of what transpired was vastly different to what was said in the police press release.
The then 19-year-old said police officers had taken him into the hills in the night, where they beat and interrogated him about the shooting-death of Sergeant Leon Powell while he was in his bar at Newton Ground on Saturday, August 18, 2018.
He also said that the officers told him to run and it was then one of them shot him.