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‘Ambushed’: Police Shoot Three Dead In Car After They ‘Fired At Officer’

Emotional scenes after the shooting.

Emotional scenes after the shooting.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

GRIEF stricken family members reacted furiously after police killed three of their relatives on Saturday after an officer was “ambushed” by gunshots. The deaths marked the country’s deadliest police-involved killing since three men were killed in the Blair Estates community in May 2019.

The deceased include 25-year-old Deshoan Smith, also known as “Spider”, and two other men who went by the names “Ridah” and “Dog Bite”. The car in which the men were shot was riddled with bullets.

Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said authorities suspect the men were waiting off Cowpen Road to target someone who was attending a burial ceremony.

“There was a funeral taking place at the Spikenard cemetery when officers who were on patrol observed a white Honda Accord parked in the eastern section of the cemetery,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“Officers went on foot. As they approached the vehicle, the vehicle drove off. Officers then got back into their vehicle and left. A short while later, driving on Cowpen Road again, they saw the vehicle through a side corner. They stopped and exited their patrol vehicle and one of the officers approached what we believe would’ve been the driver door, as the vehicle is heavily tinted. As he stood there attempting to speak with the driver, shots began being discharged from the rear seat. That officer then as he attempted to make his escape, the other officers that were there then engaged the participants of the vehicle who continued shooting at the officers. Once the shooting stopped we made a check and observed three persons inside the vehicle were suffering from gunshot injuries. We summoned EMS and EMS arrived on the scene a short time later and three of the persons in the vehicle were deceased.”

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Police at the scene of the shooting on Cowpen Road. Photos: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

Commissioner Rolle said of the three officers on the scene, one of them discharged bullets, not the other two. He did not say which of the officers discharged their weapons but noted that none of the officers were injured. The officer who approached the car “was able to get out of the way,” he said, adding: “I think the tint on the car might have assisted with the bullet like that.”

Commissioner Rolle said one weapon, a pistol, was recovered from the car.

Several dozen people huddled yards from the shooting on Cowpen Road and began screaming in anger as police left the scene in their cars.

The mother of one of the men said “police shoot that car up, they meant to kill them” while others called authorities “wicked”.

The mother, who did not give her name, said the car belonged to her son, who she said was 28.

She said while the men were “known to police” she did not think they were the type to shoot at officers.

“And the thing about it is, they known to police of course, so they definitely ain’ the type that will pull gun and shoot at policeman,” she said. “They know ‘bout going spending 48 hours, 94 hours (in custody) and come out so they ain’ gon’ do that, so tell policeman they got to come with another story.”

Another relative insisted “no shots came from out (of) the (deceased’s) car.”

The police-involved killing comes as people around the world protest police brutality and excessive force. It also comes several days after Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles warned in a ruling that discharging weapons should be a last resort.

On Saturday, the police chief said the event in question is not like the incident referenced in Justice Charles’ ruling. He said Saturday’s shooting involved suspects who “ambushed” and “engaged” police.

“I saw that report from the learned judge,” Commissioner Rolle said. “This is not that type of situation here today. This is a situation where an officer was ambushed and we train our officers. You would’ve attended the graduation ceremony just last week where I’m in the process of retraining all officers on the frontline in tactical policing, how to appropriately approach vehicles, how to appropriately apprehend suspects. We don’t train with rubber bullets. If persons want to engage the members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force they need to be prepared to meet their maker. I’m not training my officers to go out there, I would like for them to return home at the end of the day when they come to work.”

He also said: “I give you the facts as they are. I’ve been following the issues around what has happened in the United States and what has caused this whole thing and that has been a concern. I have been, as I said, we are retraining officers in the whole art of justifiable force and harm and we are retraining and we want the public to know that we don’t just walk around with a firearm looking for somebody to shoot. The Police Act says the commissioner of police would determine the types of arms that are required for his officers to do their job. We are also exploring some other non-lethal methods but for right now what we have are officers who are armed with firearms. It used to be batons, I don’t think we want officers to go on the roads nowadays with batons. Everybody riding three deep, four deep, trying to rob people and cause harm.”

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One of the bodies is removed from the scene.

The police-involved killing happened on the first Saturday in months where Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ COVID-19 lockdown measures were not in force. Increasing criminal activity as normalcy resumes in the country is a concern, Commissioner Rolle said.

“I have beefed up the presence on the streets and I would advise persons who are interested in violence to change their minds and just stay home because it is very likely that they are going to be apprehended or even have a confrontation,” he said. “We don’t want a confrontation. We’re not going to sit by and allow our officers to be injured or members of the public. Wherever we can help, our role is to ensure the safety of every person moving in this society.”

Comments

Godson 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force seem to hold an overwhelming disdain and hate for poor young black Bahamian males; whereas, the prevalent disenchantment of this our citizenry continues without being socially and otherwise address by those in authority and those elected to bring improvement. Like an ostrich, they put their heads in a hole thinking that ignoring the issue, it will go away. WRONG!

I dare say, The LORD God Almighty will address this in short order. The voice of the people is the voice of God.

Martin Luther King Jr. said "Riots are the language of the unheard".

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You're awfully quick to draw conclusions without knowing all the facts. Why don't you join the police force and find out for yourself what it's like to put your life on the line everytime you go to work? Or are you just another anarchist looking to use racism as the platform for the anarchy you see seem to desire?

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Proguing 1 month, 3 weeks ago

They were well known criminals shooting at police, read the article!

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xtreme2x 1 month, 3 weeks ago

THAT IS WHAT THE POLICE SAY. WHERE IS THE OTHER SIDE OR CAMERA TO PROVE WHAT THE POLICE SAY

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The drunk WHITE, boat captain in Abaco was also shooting at police, and at customs officers and immigration. The only difference is he was white. Bahamians police especially still suffering from four hundred years of slave mentality and 500 years of brain whitewashing

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

If I was a cop in Nassau it'd be shoot first, ask questions later. You must live on an out island and don't know about Nassau. This seems straight forward, criminals shot first and now they're dead. I have no issue with this, and I see no reason not to believe the police when they say the men shot first. Wouldn't be the first time and surely will not be the last....

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joeblow 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It would be good to hear the truth about BOTH sides of this story before commenting, although the police usually seem to go to work "in fear of their lives"!

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moncurcool 1 month, 3 weeks ago

What other side can we hear? The other side is dead!

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joeblow 1 month, 3 weeks ago

... ummm, witnesses, objectively collated evidence, etc?

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geostorm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Witnesses......you mean the screaming mothers who love to say "my good son" or the people in the neighborhood who have a disdain for the police? Good luck with evidence and objectivity!

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mandela 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The white captain who shot multiple shots at the RBPF and RBDF in Abaco recently was never shot at and his boat was not riddled up with gun bullets in fact he had hundreds of illegal bullet in his possession, this white captain was handled with love and understanding but our black brothers and sisters are handled with contempt, one gun found but three dead, what! did they all pull the trigger of one gun?

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You and @Godson above might as well be good neighbours and best of friends.

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moncurcool 1 month, 3 weeks ago

*"That officer then as he attempted to make his escape, the other officers that were there then engaged the participants of the vehicle who continued shooting at the officers. Once the shooting stopped we made a check and observed three persons inside the vehicle were suffering from gunshot injuries. We summoned EMS and EMS arrived on the scene a short time later and three of the persons in the vehicle were deceased.”

Commissioner Rolle said of the three officers on the scene, one of them discharged bullets, not the other two. He did not say which of the officers discharged their weapons but noted that none of the officers were injured*

Am I missing something? The commissioner initially says the three officers engaged the participants of the vehicle. How did they engage them? they walked up to have another conversation? they find? they run away?

But then he says only one officer shot. So the cart is riddled with bullets, and that is all from one officer? And one officer is able to shot 3 people and does not get hit? Really?

And then he says he is trying the police and that they do not train with rubber bullets. So is he saying that the police do training exercises with live ammunition?

Finally, I think someone needs to give the Commissioner a dictionary to help him learn the meaning of the word ambush. His description of the events in no way fits an ambush.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You conveniently make no mention of the fact that the car had heavily tinted windows and that shots were fired from within the car while the police officer was approaching the driver's window. The police therefore likely had no idea how many armed assailants were in the car nor the extent to which they were armed. You seem awfully quick to draw the conclusions you want without regard to all the facts that are pending the outcome of an investigation. My suggestion to you is do away with the very dark tinted windows to your car which are against the law.

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moncurcool 1 month, 3 weeks ago

How does tinted windows make for an ambush?

I am only drawing facts from what the Commissioner himself said. That I why I quoted his words. If you have an issue with what I presented then you need to take it up with the Commissioner, as I just used his words to question it. The Commissioner first three officers engaged the car, and then he came back and said only one officer fired shots. The two do not line up.

Further more, id the car is licensed, the issue of tints is irrelevant, as the relevant government authorities approved the vehicle to be on the road that way.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Your gonna do well in The Bahamas to come.....it will suit you well. LOL

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"Dog Bite"?

"The officer who approached the car “was able to get out of the way,” he said, adding: “I think the tint on the car might have assisted with the bullet like that.”

Huh? If you sitting in a car tints wont obstruct your vision. If an occupant had a gun they would have had a clear shot at the officer (unfortunately).

This is why high school English is so important. These persons rise through the ranks and end up incapable of proper communication.

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jamaicaproud 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Looks like the typical theme we have seen in my own country. Some "innocent' boys, shot dead in a "shootout", and a bunch of bawling females. Who to believe?

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The police should always get the benefit of the doubt in 'I say, you say situations' involving witnesses in an area well known for sheltering criminals. The police put their lives on the line daily and deserve the benefit of the doubt, pending the outcome of an investigation. In fact, other than their own lives, the police have no skin in the criminal acts behind most shooting incidents where one or more criminal assailants shoot first.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

If the dead criminals in this incident were from the neighbourhood pictured, I suspect some of those pictured may now have to find another source of income from crime to live off of.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I have no problem with shoot first, ask questions later in Nassau. Nassau is a war zone, you stop to think and you're a dead man.

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WETHEPEOPLE 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The headline is incorrect. Tribune you do a disservice to your readers by not publishing accurate information. Nobody ambushed the police! How about you investigate the story and establish credible information before printing nonsense just to sell papers. And to those saying being a police is a dangerous job, i agree, but dont take the job if you are afraid. The first reaction cant be shoot em.all and let God sort them out.

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RealTalk 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So many inconsistencies.

Conclusions from this story:

  1. The car never drove off the first time when the officers tried to approach it. Think for a second, if you just drove off from the police, why would you be in the same area? Why would you stop the second time? If you had something illegal, wouldn't you toss it or get rid of it?

  2. If the car did have dark tints and drove off the first time, the police would have commanded the occupants of the car to come outside of the car one at a time. (They do this ALL the time). They would have not approached the car.

  3. They stopped the car, the officer went up to the car and identified the driver of the vehicle. Hence the driver window was down. Upon identifying the driver and occupants, the police took it upon himself to shoot and kill the three persons that were known to police

I hope I am wrong. Because it would be a sad day if no shots were fired and the police acted in such a manner.

Please stop believing everything the police tell you. They also told you the count was 55 and after Sands called the RBPF out, Dames is now saying the count is 279!

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hrysippus 1 month, 3 weeks ago

No sensible person can simply believe what the policemen tell reporters. This is exactly why every police vehicle should have cameras installed, then we have a slight chance of knowing the truth of what really happened. How many citizens have been killed by the police over the past 25 years? How many policemen have been killed by citizens over the past 35 years? Which is the more dangerous job in this country, policeman or citizen?

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The lack of police car cameras and police body cameras is not the problem. The real problem is the large number of hard core criminals in our society that we all know exists. I certainly wouldn't want to be a lowly paid policeman in our country today. Would you?

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TalRussell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

To support the urgency call for the defunding and demilitarising of the colony's constabulary, couldn't be a more helped by looking back to the days when comrade Out Islanders who did lock their front doors were wildly known had left the spare key under the front step, and all enforcement was done under a single spare time hours constable per out island rule.
Nowadays the central government sends in the Royal Marines to roams the streets and jibs equipped with submachine guns and bazookas. Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Commissioner Rolle said any one who confronts the Police. Must be prepared to meet their Maker. What he is saying is they will be killed. the person will die..

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

We know the PLP love anarchy and chaos as it greatly distracts the public from all the tiefin they like to do behind the people's back. Has the FNM taken yet another page out of the PLP's playbook?

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 3 weeks ago

What was said is the Police did not know who were in the car because of the tinted windows. it was only after they were dead. they found out they were know to the police.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

May not be so because earlier reports say the police saw from a distance a couple of the guys getting into the same car at another nearby location. This is probably how the police knew beforehand that they were dealing with really bad actors. The police officer who first approached the car was smart to exercise great care to avoid getting shot.

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

this was how police knew beforehand who they were going to asasinate

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yep, they had it all planned. Where did you say you live?

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geostorm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Great job officers! Three more criminals off the streets. We would all be singing a different tune if these 3 happened to carry out whatever plot they had and killed some innocent by stander, maybe a relative of yours.

They get no sympathy from me! These young thugs are wreaking harvoc on our streets. Just look at the poor 10 year old girl innocently killed last week by a thug. Have you people lost your minds? We are a nation of law and order.

If you feel that passionately about their deaths, then I suggest you go look for some young thugs to mentor. Teach them that a life of crime does not pay. Help them to turn their lives around in order to become productive citizens. If you are not prepared to do that, then I suggest you shut your mouths and let the police do their jobs!

Clean up those streets Commissioner Rolle!!

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DDK 1 month, 3 weeks ago

What about the 'cop for hire' theory?

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The police claim they could not use in the car because of heavy tints.so according to police, they did not know who was in the car. What if it was someone holding hostages? Children even of a disgruntled father

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

OMG....the Pope might have been in that car!

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

These police killers are going to be exposed and they are going to jail, along with others..just watch.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Where did you say you live again?

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I live in the White House, wat ‘bout you

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Bottom line for me? They had a gun. Now they're dead. I see no problem. Young men and guns are the curse of this country. Kill more of them and who knows maybe one day Nassau will be livable again. Keep killing thugs until thugs get the message. My cousin was murdered in his bedroom one night, mistaken identity, supposedly they were supposed to be a few houses down the street. Kicked in the door and started shooting. So I'm ok with killing as many armed thugs as humanly possible until they get the message....

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

If I was on the jury it'd be an automatic innocent verdict for these cops... They had a gun? Innocent.

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Can you prove they had a gun? Are the police willing to allow an independent forensic expert examine the car and determine if shots were actually fired from within? Can the police produce the gun with the victim’s finger prints on it? What is the real meaning of the word ‘ambush?’ That you lie and wait fro a victim/enemy

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I'm worried @John is now going to try buy a gun for protection. Hopefully he taking his meds and remembers to buy the bullets too!

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John 1 month, 3 weeks ago

A typical red neck response by attempting to discredit a person and also projecting onto that person what his own thoughts and actions may be. Yes, it’s a happy day for you, three young Black men are killed and also the one at Wendy’s. Enjoy your fentanyl! BTW I need neither guns nor bullets. My battle is not with the flesh. We jjudgrvangels even!

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

No, no, no John! Forget buying a machete.

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Chucky 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Pretty sure an ambush is when you sneak up on someone, and sometimes have them surrounded.

If this was an ambush, it was carried out by the police!

I can’t breathe!

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TalRussell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You can't lawfully kill people based upon mere assumptions!
I have yet to hear a single higher up the command post official explanation other than assumptions as to exactly what illegal activity was the vehicle, or it's still at the time unknown occupants, engaged in prior to the first alleged shot being discharged?
Has wonder if a
gunshot fired warning alert device was installed within hearing distance bullets being fired?
What if the occupants of the vehicle were
scared for their lives** and lawfully reacted...excepting all three vehicle's occupants were deadly force gunned down. Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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Giordano 1 month, 3 weeks ago

No doubt, this was another nearly all wrong approach to crime from the unfortunate ill called RBPF. It's a long-wrong stationary behavior from the local Police in The Bahamas. They really need some serious reform because all of us are at great risks of being victimized in one way or another. Where is the Police Body Camera? How effective are they investigating themselves ? Why all the local, already discussed and approved laws, by the parliament are not being reinforced by all law enforcement officers? Why the Police personal criteria is applied above the laws in The Bahamas? Why not collection of overwhelming evidence of corruption everywhere in The Bahamas? Why a current PM reinforces his own personal pledge above the National Pledge? Why so much disadvantages between law abiding citizens vs open laws breakers in The Bahamas? Why so many drinkers & drunk people out there in so many public corners with nearby liquor store own by an ex/or current POLICE officer.? Why so many well known Psychiatric Patients out on the streets of NP.? Why so much insanity and lack of respect and decency in this Land of so many Churches ?

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