By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE shooting death of a 20-year-old at the hands of police officers in the Masons Addition area four years ago was justified in the circumstances, a jury found yesterday.
The five-member jury—four women and one man—unanimously found that police acted lawfully in shooting D’Angelo Bodie Wallace aka “Fingers” on May 16, 2015.
Assistant Superintendent Alexander Pierre, Constable 2823 Jahmal Rolle, Detective Constable 2790 Jara McPhee, and Sergeant 771 Kenneth Greenslade were the officers involved in the matter.
The decision came after their attorney, K. Melvin Munroe, reminded the jury of what prompted his clients to take the action they did—that Wallace shot at both ASP Pierre and P/C Rolle after defying the latter’s orders to drop his weapon. And that came after he was said to have tried to kill his neighbour, Cleveland Sawyer.
The only reason that didn’t happen, according to the evidence, was because the gun Wallace had, a .40 Glock Smith & Wesson auto-loading pistol, malfunctioned twice when Wallace pulled the trigger on Mr Sawyer. However, Mr Sawyer told police that even while he was running from Wallace, he could still hear gunshots behind him.
And in any event, the evidence suggested the four officers were severely “outgunned” throughout the entire ordeal, as they also had to contend with the likes of a high-powered “imitation” AK-47 assault rifle with only their police service weapons, with the former capable of shooting some 1,300 feet per second faster than the latter.
According to the evidence, P/C Rolle said in the early morning hours of May 16, 2015, he and ASP Pierre were on duty at the junction of East Street and Wulff Road when they received certain information from police control room about shots being fired in the Masons Addition area.
P/C Rolle said when he and ASP Pierre arrived at the location around 3.30am, he observed a group of males, one of whom was armed with the high-powered weapon.
P/C Rolle said upon their arrival, the males fled the area, prompting him and ASP Pierre to give chase. He said the male with the rifle ran east into a nearby yard, while the rest headed west towards East Street behind a house and some bushes.
After managing to apprehend and arrest a suspect, he said he heard a barrage of gunshots that sounded like “violent lightning and thunder” coming from the direction of East Street to the west.
P/C Rolle said while the suspect they had apprehended was still at his side, one of the males dressed in black from earlier, who was armed with a weapon, ran from a house and to the east away from East Street.
P/C Rolle said he ordered the male to drop the gun, and expected him to do so. However, he said the male refused, turned and fired a single shot in their direction. P/C Rolle said ASP Pierre, who was closest to the shooter, threw his hands up in defence, and given the look on his partner’s face, led him to believe he had been hit.
While this was happening, Sergeant Sean Thurston, en route to the Masons Addition area after being sent there by police control room, said he could hear officers over the radio saying they were being shot at that they could actually see the fire and the smoke from the gun in question. In fact, there was evidence that ASP Pierre frantically said he felt something whiz past his head.
Nonetheless, P/C Rolle said he was able to harken to his training days and fired two shots in the shooter’s direction. He also said ASP Pierre also had the opportunity to discharge his weapon after the first shot was fired. P/C Rolle said the shooter continued running in an easterly direction.
P/C Rolle said a short time later, other officers arrived on the scene. He said they went in the direction the shooter ran, and ultimately found him lifeless with a .40 Glock Smith & Wesson auto-loading pistol lying near his body.
Forensic Pathologist Dr Caryn Sands, in giving testimony, said Wallace suffered two injuries: one to the torso and another to his right foot. However, she said no bullets or bullet fragments were recovered.
However, Charles Bain, an expert firearms examiner, said ballistic evidence revealed that Wallace did in fact fire a weapon on the night in question, as swabs taken revealed that residue from a discharged firearm was found on his hand.
Another senior officer testified that he too was sent into the Mason’s Addition area in reference to gunshots being fired. Upon arriving in that area, he observed a male, bareback, who was running for his life.
The senior officer said he subsequently took that male to another male to the Central Police Station, and while en route, could hear gunshots being fired in rapid succession from the Masons Addition area.
Meanwhile, Woman Constable Briana Mackey stated that while on duty at Central Police Station, she spoke to two males: Cleveland Sawyer and Leroy Russell, the former of whom told her that his neighbour who he knew as “Fingers”, pulled a black handgun on him and tried to kill him.
W/C Mackey said Sawyer told her that when “Fingers” pulled the trigger the first time, nothing happened. When he tried again, the gun jammed. But she said Sawyer told her that as he ran from “Fingers” he could hear shots being fired at him.