By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOUR police officers were justified in executing a Grand Bahama man who shot and killed an innocent bystander near a liquor store seven years ago, a jury has found.
The five member jury found Detective Corporal 2529 Johnson, Detective Constable 3112 Pinder and 2288 Wilson and VPR 919 Bowe acted lawfully in the January 24, 2011 slaying of Rashad Forbes.
According to the evidence Forbes was shot dead when he was chasing and shooting at another man when his gunfire instead hit 36-year-old Terrance Williams of Flint Street.
During the inquest before Her Majesty’s Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez, Inspector Raymond Saunders said he was on duty in a marked police bus with the four other officers when they received information resulting in them going to the area of Hay and East Streets.
Insp. Saunders said prior to their arrival at the intended destination he heard what sounded like three to four gunshots. He subsequently stopped the bus, of which he was the driver, and all of the officers got out except for him and another officer.
The senior officer said he then saw a male in a red jacket running from a liquor store and through its parking lot, with another man in a camouflage jacket with a handgun shooting at the male in the red jacket.
Upon exiting the bus, he said he heard voices shouting “police” at the gunman in a bid to get him to drop the weapon, but instead, the male turned and pointed the gun in the officers’ direction. In response, the officers opened fire, striking the male, who fell face-down to the ground. The gun consequently fell from his hand.
Insp. Saunders said he went over to the fallen male with another officer, who was instructed to collect and secure the firearm as a crowd had begun to gather in an area that was already “heavily populated” and “problematic”. That officer was also told to call police control room for an ambulance.
Insp. Saunders also said a woman subsequently told him the man who was shot by police had recently shot another man which she directed him to. Upon reaching that area, Insp. Saunders said he observed a male who appeared to be lifeless.
EMS personnel later pronounced both individuals dead at the scene.
Detective Sergeant Knowles, who was attached to the nearby Quakoo Street Police Station at the time, testified that on the evening of the date in question, he received certain information and consequently drove to Hay and East Streets where he met several officers who walked him through an apparent crime scene.
He said he observed two bodies lying approximately 30 to 40 feet apart. The first body was situated in front of Audley Kemp’s Liquor Store, suffering from what appeared to be gunshot wounds to the head and chest, while the next was situated in the bar’s walkway with suspected gunshot wounds to the chin area.
Det. Sgt. Knowles said he later conducted door-to-door inquiries of the crime scene and gained valuable information for his investigation from various people, however, they declined to give a written statement because they did not want to be involved in the matter. Thus, he said he was unable to produce any witnesses. Two people who could have been compelled to testify have since been murdered.
Nonetheless, Det. Sgt. Knowles said he did question a female witness, whose information mirrored that of the four officers. He said based on that information, he learned the deceased lying in the walkway was Terrance Williams, while the male in the camouflage attire was Forbes.
Det. Sgt. Knowles said the woman told him that while running after and firing shots at the male in the red jacket, Williams, who was not the intended target, was shot and killed.
The four officers were represented by attorney Lennox Coleby. Anishka Missick marshalled the evidence in the inquest.