Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
By Khrisna Russell
Deputy Chief Reporter
ROYAL Bahamas Police Force officers “did what they had to do” when they killed three men at a Blair home on Friday, National Security Minister Marvin Dames has said, while insisting that, regardless of what allegations are made, the facts will eventually be made known.
Jamaal Penn, Valentino Pratt and Trevor Cooper were all shot at the home off the Eastern Road during an early morning operation. There were reportedly six children in the home at the time. This has raised concern from relatives of the men who were inside the house at the time and from the wider public about how police conduct operations when children are present.
Asked about this by The Tribune yesterday, Mr Dames said: “Let’s wait and hear the matter out before a court of law and then we can have our comments after that.
“It was an operation carried out by the police. Unfortunately, some persons lost their lives. I believe the police may have recovered some five weapons on that scene in addition to a quantity of drugs. And, according to the police, they were fired on.
“In a situation like that, by law, they did what they had to do.”
Mr Dames acknowledged that the situation was out of the ordinary.
“I don’t want to get too much into that particular matter, but these are the times that we’re living in today. We are going to have from time to time unfortunately situations like this, but we’ll see what happens.
“The matter is being prepared for the Coroner’s Court and we’ll allow the evidence to come out and a determination made as to what happened and why it happened and get the outcome.”
The minister’s comments yesterday were similar to those of Acting Police Commissioner Paul Rolle on Monday, who urged people to give officers the opportunity to have their say in court before conclusions are drawn.
The deceased men’s 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. It was also alleged that the same officers who shot the three men were investigating the incident.
The acting commissioner denied the latter claim and urged those relatives with information to speak with police.
“They are not,” the acting commissioner said when he was asked about relatives’ claims that the police shooters were among the officers investigating. “The officers that were involved in the shooting incident are not a part of the investigation.
“They are not conducting that investigation (and) they have nothing to do with that investigation. All of the evidence, as I am aware, has been submitted to the forensic lab where they need to go.”
Asked if the killing of three people by police in one incident was an extraordinary event, Acting Commissioner Rolle said: “I’m not certain that this is the first time that it has happened, but I do not wish to comment because I was not there and in fairness to the officers concerned, people should give them the opportunity to have their say in court.”
On Friday, authorities said the three men were killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Police said they had a search warrant to enter the premises. At the time, several people were arrested.