Ex-cop on trial for shot-in-the-back death

Stabroek News
March 15, 2001

If a suspect is in custody and attempts to escape, a police officer should not shoot at the suspect as it is unreasonable to shoot a person in the back, police witness, Gordon St Kitts said yesterday.

St Kitts was at the time testifying in the manslaughter trial of former police constable, Vincent Coates who is currently before Justice Oswell Legal and a 12-member jury, comprised of eight men and four women.

Coates is accused of unlawfully shooting Mohamed Shaheed called 'Sheep Teeth' on April 18, 1996. He is represented by attorney-at-law George Richardson.

The witness who is now stationed at the Mackenzie Police Station told that court that at the time of the incident he was stationed at the Leonora Police Station. He said that the accused worked under his supervision and during that time he held classes where he advised ranks of their police duties and how they should execute those duties.

He said he told the officers that if they were attacked during an attempt to free persons in lawful custody or if anyone was about to commit a crime such as murder or break-and-enter then they had the right to use their firearms.

According to the prosecution's case, at the time of the incident the accused was attached to the Leonora Police Station. On the day in question the accused was responding to a report of an alleged break-and-enter and larceny committed at Meten-Meer-zorg at around 5:30 am.

Witnesses disclosed that the accused and the deceased, who was the suspect at the time, entered a shop and at the request of the deceased the accused bought a pack of cigarettes.

After this was done the accused stopped a bus and as he was about to embark with the deceased, the suspect made a bid to escape. The accused fired shots and called for the deceased to stop. Afterwards, the deceased lay motionless on the ground with a hole in his back.

Following investigations the accused was arrested and the charge was instituted.

The trial of Coates, who is on $10,000 bail will continue today.