The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) has stoutly defended its handling of investigations into the shooting death of Selwyn Knight and the arrest of Constable Everton Gittens who was charged for Knight’s murder today.
Against the backdrop of public calls for justice and a speeding up of the process of bringing charges against Constable Gittens, acting Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of crime, Mark Thompson, said in a two-page statement this afternoon that at no time did the force want to sacrifice accuracy and completeness in their probe, for speed.
Thompson noted that the police administration had given the assurance that it would conduct an impartial and transparent investigation with the greatest of alacrity.
“As most persons are aware, we operate a due process model of criminal justice, which has elaborate protections for accused persons. Some of these protections are enshrined in the Constitution of Barbados, including the right to a fair trial. In small jurisdictions where everyone knows everyone, this right has to be jealously guarded,” emphasized the senior police administrator.
He responded specifically to some of the public discussion on this matter, including calls by the victims’ family for justice.
He said while the RBPF understood the pain and anguish of family members and empathized with them, justice, according to law, was the safest approach to take in this case.
“Indeed, the circumstances of this case seem to make comforting words elusive, and the call for justice seems to be the only words that unite all of us. Interestingly, the notion of justice connotes different things to different people and that is why justice as expounded in law, seems to be the safest approach to ascertaining what the notion really entails.”
Thompson said even though the force considered the interest and the rights of the public to be kept informed of the administration of justice and enforcement of the law, those interests and rights must be balanced against those of the accused and the victims and their family.
He also said the police had honoured the promises they had made to enforce the criminal law in such a manner that protected the integrity of the justice system, by forwarding the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for an independent review and his advice.
“On Friday 17 April, 2015, I became aware of his [DPP] advice and as a consequence, instructions were given to arrest Constable Everton Gittens; on Sunday 19 April, 2015, this was done. Mrs Marlene Knight, the wife of the late Selwyn Knight, was informed by the senior investigator that Constable Gittens was arrested and that he would be formally charged on Monday, 20 April, 2015 after two other matters that were conditions precedent to formal charges being preferred, were dealt with.
“These conditions were subsequently met and on Monday 20 April, 2015, Constable Everton Gittens was charged for murder, wounding and endangering life. He appeared before Magistrate A. Seale at the District A Magistrates Court and was not required to plea to the indictable offences and was remanded until 18 May, 2015.”
The police constable is also charged with wounding Junior Knight, son of the late Selwyn Knight, during the same shooting incident at Dash Gap, Bank Hall, St Michael on March 15.