Attorney General Carl Bethel.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Coroner's Court ruling this week that a police officer unlawfully killed a man in 2013 is “up in the air”, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.
“I have not received any information from the Coroners Court,” he said. “There is nothing for us to act on until we have received a report or recommendation from the Coroner’s Court.”
A jury unanimously ruled this week that Police Corporal Adrian Miller unlawfully killed 31-year-old Girred Clarke at a party on August 17, 2013.
Cpl Miller’s lawyer, Bjon Ferguson, has said the ruling will be appealed.
“I’m not sure what is going to happen now since he has given intention to appeal,” Mr Bethel said. “The Act allows any interested persons or the attorney general to appeal a finding.”
National Security Minister Marvin Dames said on Friday that the ruling will be closely examined.
“This is how it works,” he said. “We must have confidence in our system. The commissioner and those will look at the matter to see the impact of it and determine the next course of action. They will see how it applies to them and to the Force, taking note that his attorney did note they intend to file for an appeal of the matter.”
Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson wouldn’t say much about the matter when called Friday. Noting it will “be sent to the AG’s office," he said he maintains “utmost confidence” in the judicial system.
The Coroner’s Court does not determine criminal, civil or disciplinary liability; it ascertains facts surrounding a person's death. When an inquest is completed, the court must forward its findings to the attorney general who has the power to order that an inquest be re-opened, according to the Coroner’s Act. An appeal of a ruling to the Supreme Court must be filed within a month of the Coroner’s Court ruling. The Supreme Court could confirm or set aside a finding, could substitute a finding that appears justified by the evidence, could order that the inquest be reopened or that a fresh one be held.
It was alleged that on August 17, 2013, Cpl Miller unlawfully killed Clarke after firing a .45 Glock pistol twice into the air and once into the trunk of a car Clarke was driving.
At an event hosted by his family and friends, Clarke had an argument with an uninvited guest and subsequently fired his weapon, according to testimony during the inquest. Shortly afterwards, Cpl Miller and another officer responded to the matter, met Clarke and spoke to him.
One witness testified that Cpl Miller identified himself as a police officer to Clarke and requested that he stop his car. Other witnesses said they never heard Cpl Miller identify himself as a police or request that Clarke stop.
At some point during the encounter Clarke and Cpl Miller faced each other, it was testified; Clarke produced a weapon and shots were fired.
Ballistic evidence showed Cpl Miller fired his service weapon, a 9mm handgun, eight times while Clarke’s gun was fired twice.
Police found Clarke's body between a fence and a vehicle outside the party.