By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Crown has been forced to withdraw its own appeal of a man’s acquittal of a murder charge because he was controversially killed by police two months before the appeal could be heard.
Trevor Cooper Jr was due to appear before the appellate court on July 11 for the Crown’s intended appeal of his acquittal for murdering Frederick Ferguson outside of a business on West Bay Street in February 2017.
However, in the early morning hours of May 17, 23-year-old Cooper was one of three men fatally shot by police when they stormed a house just off the Eastern Road in search of a wanted suspect.
The other two men who were killed were Jamaal Penn aka “Fool” and Valentino Pratt.
With Cooper dead, the Crown withdrew the appeal, causing the matter to be dismissed by default. Cooper’s attorney Ryszard Humes confirmed the information to The Tribune this week.
On May 17, police stormed a large home at Newgate and Commonwealth Roads in the execution of a search warrant. Penn, Pratt and Cooper, whom relatives claimed were unarmed, were shot to death.
Police said that was the result of a manhunt operation in the area to locate a wanted suspect for a recent homicide and shootings in New Providence.
Officers were able to enter the property because they were granted a search warrant, Chief Supt Solomon Cash told reporters.
Authorities said the three men were killed in an exchange of gunfire; it was said the trio opened fire on officers, who returned gunfire.
At the time, Chief Supt Cash said police discovered 22lbs of marijuana and two additional firearms afterwards in a search of the property. In total, police said three weapons were recovered.
Several people were arrested.
However, in an exclusive interview on the Sunday after the shooting, several of Penn’s, Pratt’s and Cooper’s relatives questioned the manner in which police carried out their operation in the home because six children were present.
The relatives, who were also inside the house during the police-involved killing, alleged that none of the men fired at officers, contradicting police reports that there was an exchange of gunfire. Also on that Sunday, a young boy who was present said one of the three men pleaded with officers not to shoot because children were in the house.
“He was saying ‘don’t shoot, don’t shoot,’” one of the children told this newspaper. “He was holding me and police start saying, ‘put the boy down’, so he put me down and the police come up the stairs and round him and shoot him in his back.
“And I had blood on my clothes ‘cause I fell down in the blood on the floor.”
However, Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson subsequently defended the officers involved in the incident, calling them “very responsible”.
When asked if he was confident the proper procedure was followed, Commissioner Ferguson said: “Let me say the officers who were on that operation were very responsible and very experienced officers. That is as much as I will say in respect to that.”
The police chief also said his force has nothing to hide when he was asked about how utilising body cameras may come into play when there are differing accounts in such events.