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‘A prayer answered’ for family of man killed by police officer

Christine Rolle said yesterday that when her son, Osworth Rolle, was fatally shot by a police officer in 2016, her family was ripped apart.

On Tuesday, a five-member jury unanimously ruled that Rolle, 22, who was shot in the head and chest, was unlawfully killed at the hands of officer Kendrick Brown on November 30, 2016.

“I can truly say that from 2016 up to yesterday it was a struggle,” Christine Rolle said.

“I was a bit relieved. I was happy.”

Taking in a deep breath and sighing, the mother of five continued, “I really don’t have words to express yesterday, but it was a prayer being answered.”

Rolle was killed one day after his father’s birthday.

This has haunted Kendall Rolle, who said he just wants the world to know that his son was not a bad child.

“He was not known to the police,” he said.

“He had a clean record and I just want to clear his name and I just want the world to know that our son was not a bad child. Our son was not a gang banger, he was not involved in any way shape or form.”

Rolle was the fourth of his mother’s five boys.

Christine Rolle described him as loving.

“He [brought] laughter, he [brought] happiness and from 2016, with him being taken away from us, it just [tore] my family apart,” she said.

“There are four more brothers and every day they feel like they live in a dream because they feel like he went away and he’s going to come back.”

She added that when she called her sons to tell them about Tuesday’s verdict they all felt that justice was served.

Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez told the jury in her summation, “We have no special task force to investigate an officer in a police-involved shooting. In this jurisdiction, if there is fatal police shooting, it is the police who will investigate the police.”

The director of public prosecutions (DPP) will have to determine whether any criminal charges will flow from the jury’s verdict. In the meantime, Brown remains on active duty.

Ramona Farquharson, who represented Rolle’s family, said yesterday that they will await a decision from the DPP before they decide to take any private action, which is being considered.

However, Rolle’s father noted that he hopes justice will be served.

“We are hopeful that the system will take its course and that the system see the need to do the right thing,” he said.

Police accountability

Speaking on the matter of Brown remaining on active duty, Farquharson said a better procedure needs to be put in place to handle police-involved shootings.

“I’m of the opinion that once a police officer has been cited or they are an interested party, I feel that they ought not to be involved in active duty, that there should be some type of…suspension of some sort,” she said.

“Of course, the Royal Bahamas Police Force may say that sometimes these inquests take quite a while to come up, so, of course, you have to balance the fairness that they are innocent until proven guilty. Coroner’s matters are not criminal or civil matters, so there’s a balancing act there.

“But one of the things that I think has been born out of this, and that I do have concern with, is the efficiency of the police investigating police.”

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