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Call for Bain Town shooting public inquiry

Bain and Grants Town Member of Parliament Dr. Bernard Nottage yesterday called for an independent public inquiry into the death of Shamarco Newbold, 19, who was killed by police last month.

“It is not good enough to refer it to the Coroner’s Court, Mr. Speaker. Neither is it good enough for there to be an internal inquiry on the part of the police force,”said Nottage yesterday in the House of Assembly.

On November 20, a riot erupted in Bain Town after Newbold was shot in the head and killed by police.

Police allege that Newbold was in possession of a gun and fired at police. Residents said he was sitting with other area resident in the Meadow Street and Hospital Lane area when officers approached and shot him.

Police confirmed on Monday that they have referred the Newbold killing to the Coroner’s Court.

Referring to the wider state of violence in his constituency, Nottage said four shootings occurred in Bain Town in the 12-hour period after Newbold was shot. The family homes of two of the young men who were shot were also set on fire, Nottage added.

“And in the homes which were set onfire, fortunately fire engines came. They came on time. They put the fires out before any major damage was done to the homes. But in those homes that were put on fire, Mr. Speaker, were tens of people, children and adults, sleeping,”he said.

After speaking with area residents, Nottage told the House that that dispute does not appear to be resolved.

“Those guys whose houses they tried to burn down, there is going to be retaliation. I know that. The only question is when,”he said.

Nottage said there has been a significant shift in the thinking of some in The Bahamas.

“And if you go and you sit down with these guys and you talk to them, they are very rational. They understand what’s going on. But among our young men particularly, Mr. Speaker, there is a frightening disregard for life,”he added.

On the issue of the public inquiry into Newbold’s death, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said there is no need for a public inquiry at this time, as there is already a system in place for investigating police related shootings.

Based on current laws, Ingraham said there must be a coroner’s inquest.

“Policemen have been charged in The Bahamas before for using excessive force. And if evidence supports it, that’s what normally happens in a democracy,”he said.

Ingraham added that there is also a new police complaints inspectorate to which compliants can be made regarding police behavior.

“If at the end of that entire exercise there is dissatisfaction with the results, then we would not preclude a public inquiry being held. But that would be after a process has been completed, not before,”said Ingraham.

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