Policeman on trial for manslaughter of escapee

Guyana Chronicle
March 15, 2001

POLICEMAN Vincent Coates fatally shot escaping prisoner Mohammed Shaheed alias `Sheep Teeth' in the back while he was running away on April 18, 1996, State Prosecutor Candace Raphael alleged yesterday.

In her opening address at the cop's trial before Justice Oswell Legall and a mixed jury, the Prosecutor said the shooter was attached to Leonora Police Station, West Coast Demerara, at the time.

She said Coates, armed with a .38 revolver, had been sent to investigate a report of break and enter and larceny when he arrested Shaheed.

The policeman was taking his prisoner to the station when the latter dashed off and Coates ran after him shouting:"Halt or else I'll shoot."

Raphael said the fleeing man refused to stop and Shaheed fired three rounds before the victim fell wounded in the back and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

A witness, Assistant Superintendent of Police Gordon St Kitts, who was in charge of Leanora Station then, said Coates ought not to have shot at the runaway and should have used other means to re-arrest him.

In answer to other State Prosecutor Simone Bullen, St Kitts said the accused had attended classes at which he was told about the circumstances under which a firearm may be used.

St Kitts said a policeman who is attacked and apprehends serious danger to his person is entitled to shoot if he cannot defend himself any other way.

Responding to a question by the jury, the Police officer said Coates was not in possession of handcuffs when the tragedy occurred.

The case is continuing today.