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Policeman walks free from charge of civilian’s fatal shooting

by Barbados Today
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Murder-accused police officer emotional as he walks free With an emotional “thank you, Your Worship”, police officer Everton Randolph Gittens walked out of the Supreme Court Complex on Tuesday afternoon, free of a murder charge that had been hanging over his head for almost seven years.

He was cleared of the controversial killing of Selwyn Blues Knight as well as two other charges in a case that Magistrate Kristie Cuffy- Sargeant described as a “matter of public interest”.

Gittens, who is in his 50s, of Lot 1 Dash Gap, Bank Hall, St Michael, was charged with the March 15, 2015 fatal shooting of Knight; recklessly engaging in conduct which placed Junior Knight, the son of the deceased, in danger of death or serious bodily harm; and unlawfully wounding the younger Knight with intent to maim, disfigure or disable him or to cause him some serious bodily harm.

Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant ruled in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court, which is currently located at the Whitepark Road complex, that based on the evidence outlined the three charges against Gittens “cannot be sustained and … a prima facie case has not been made out by the prosecution”.

“The accused Everton Randolph Gittens is discharged from this court,” she declared.

The testimony of Gittens’ girlfriend, relayed to the court in a summary of the facts read by the magistrate, was that the two were at home on the morning of the incident when she heard a commotion outside the residence and woke her boyfriend.

Acting on what she told him, Gittens got up from bed and looked outside and saw Selwyn and Junior Knight pinning down another man, identified as Jamal Skeete. According to the evidence, Gittens observed the older Knight with a knife and his son with a bottle.

A scuffle among the Knights and Skeete ensued and at one point, Skeete said he was on his back with Selwyn over him making a stabbing motion as he shouted, “don’t kill me, don’t kill me”.

On seeing this, Gittens shouted from his residence: “Police! Drop the knife!”

He then took up his licensed firearm, went outside and shouted to the father and son duo: “Armed police. Drop your weapon!”

He fired his gun in their direction, and they were both shot.

Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant said the prosecution called several witnesses who supported the version of the events described by Gittens.

She explained that based on the evidence before the court, the issue was whether “all the essential ingredients of the offences have been satisfied” and, if so, whether a prima facie case had been made out against the accused in relation to each of the charges.

Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant stressed that where the prosecution fails to prove one of the essential ingredients of the offence, the accused must be acquitted.

Describing the case as a “matter of public interest”, the magistrate said: “There has been a lot of discussion in the public domain about the events that transpired before the accused, Everton Randolph Gittens, came upon the complainants Selwyn Knight and Junior Knight.

It is important to note that when the accused approached the complainants and Jamal Skeete he knew two things – what his girlfriend told him and what he saw when he looked through his window and went outside.”

“The courts must be careful in the exercise of judicial authority not to be bogged down by public discourse in rendering a decision. It is the responsibility of the magistrate to conduct the required research and apply the law to the facts, always bearing in mind that justice must be rendered freely without fear or favour,” she added.

As the magistrate gave her decision on each charge, Gittens, whose hands were clasped behind his back, slowly bowed his head.
“Thank you, Your Worship . . . . Thank you, Ma’am, please to be excused,” he said.

It however took an emotional Gittens several minutes to move from his spot.

“Mr Gittens, you are free to go,” Cuffy- Sargeant informed him, for which he again thanked the magistrate before taking a handkerchief from his back pocket, wiping his upper face and quietly exiting the court.

When asked by reporters outside the court for a reaction, Gittens gave no reply as he left the compound.
Knight’s widow and son were not present for the decision.

Gittens was represented by attorney-at-law Angella Mitchell-Gittens while police prosecutor in the matter was Assistant Superintendent Trevor Blackman.

fernellawedderburn@barbadostoday.bb

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