Tears of joy for Evans family at Coroner’s Court ruling



By Pavel Bailey

Tribune Court Reporter


THE family of Deangelo Evans burst into tears of joy after a Coroner’s Court jury ruled yesterday that the 20-year-old’s police-involved shooting death in 2018 was a homicide by manslaughter.

The officers in the case, Corporal Wright and Inspector Wilson, appeared disappointed by the verdict.

This is the latest inquest to return a homicide by manslaughter verdict. It comes weeks after a jury made the same finding concerning Azario Major.

The jurors could have returned a result of justifiable homicide, homicide by murder or an open verdict. Evans was killed on Sandy Lane in Mason’s Addition on May 27, 2018. Officers were responding to an alleged armed robbery suspect.

 While the officers maintained that Evans was armed, the family and several eyewitnesses said he was not. Civilian witnesses, including Dwight Johnson, who was identified as a suspect in the armed robbery, testified that police placed the gun they claimed Evans had at the scene.

 In his closing remarks, K Melvern Munroe, attorney for the officers, asked the jury to reject the evidence of some witnesses because of inconsistencies in their testimony.

 Mr Munroe asked jurors to put themselves in the place of the officers facing an armed threat. He said if they would also fire their weapons to protect their lives and civilians, they should return a verdict of justifiable homicide.

 Ryzard Humes, who represented the deceased’s estate, said that Edmund Lee, Evans’ cousin who was one of the first on the scene after the shooting and rendered assistance to the deceased, was unshaken in his testimony that Evans was unarmed. 

 Mr Humes said all civilian witnesses were consistent in their testimony that Evans had no gun and that he had his arms raised at the time of the shooting.

 The attorney also questioned why officers would focus solely on Evans when Johnson was wearing attire more closely matching the armed robbery suspect. 

 Romona Farquharson Seymour, who also represented the deceased’s estate, told The Tribune after the verdict that while the family wanted a homicide by murder outcome, they are happy with the finding of homicide by manslaughter. She expressed concern with the process of the Director of Public Prosecutions pressing charges against officers in such cases. 

 “At the end of the day, (the verdict) means that after hearing all the evidence the jury determined the death of their son was unlawful,” Mrs Seymour said.

 “The next step is now they have to wait and see whether the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, I believe that there is an acting director, Ms Cordell Frazer, whether she will, having knowledge of the verdict, whether she will direct for the interested parties, the officers Wilson and Wright, for them to be now charged criminally. And so that is really the hope, so that they, the family, can move further in reaching some type of conclusion in this matter.

 “I believe a reasonable time would be anywhere from 14 days to 30 days, a month, for there to be some determination. A reviewing, obviously of the verdict, of the file, and then to determine whether those officers will in fact be charged. That unfortunately seems to have to be the waiting game and the plight of these families. You would note that, whereas there has been a number of verdicts of homicide by manslaughter, they have not necessarily translated or it has not materialised the officers being interdicted and charged and placed before the Supreme Court.

 “And so that’s really a sad fact and many families are then left in limbo saying, ‘Well why? What’s next?’ Why if a jury has found that you have unlawfully taken the life of my loved one, why is it that there is a hesitation, or in some cases a refusal, to put the matter or put the person before the criminal court, the Supreme Court?”

 Acting Coroner Kara Turnquest-Deveaux presided as Patrick Sweeting marshaled the evidence.

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