In the wake of heavy criticism following a fatal police-involved shooting that claimed the lives of three men earlier this month, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday that the officers involved are responsible and experienced.
“Let me say the officers who were on that operation are very responsible and very experienced officers and that is as much as I will say in respect to that,” Ferguson told reporters following the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations opening ceremony at Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas.
Asked his response to the family of the victims who claim police acted unlawfully, Ferguson said he hadn’t heard any criticism because he was out of the country.
He added that despite the disparity in accounts from police and families of the deceased, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) is the official law enforcement in The Bahamas.
“I don’t know what the family said and I’m not going to try to speak to what they [said],” Ferguson said.
“[You] always have to remember that the police department is the legitimate law enforcement agency and until I fully understand what is being said then I’ll be able to analyze all of the pros and cons, but I cannot speak to anything that anybody would have said.
“It’s a disadvantage for me to try to speak to something that I have not seen [nor] heard.”
On the morning of May 19, police killed three men in a home off Eastern Road after police said the men opened fire at officers attempting to execute a search warrant.
Police said the incident happened around 2:30 a.m. in a pink and white building on Newgate Road in the Blair Estates community.
The Nassau Guardian understands that one of the men was Jamal Penn, also known as Tony Smith, an alleged gang leader who had been acquitted of several murder charges in recent years. Another of the victims was identified as Trevor Cooper, who was charged with murder in 2017, but later acquitted. Valentino Pratt, who has a history of firearm and drug charges, is the third man killed.
Following the shooting, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Brave Davis called on the government to hire an independent company to investigate the incident.
Asked if the force would consider that, Ferguson said it is not the job of the RBPF.
“Let me say that is not within the leadership of the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s (RBPF) domain,” he said.
“We don’t create laws, we follow the laws and that’s as much as I will say on that.”
According to police, there were 11 fatal police-involved shootings in 2018.
This year, according to The Nassau Guardian’s records, there have been four police-involved shootings, killing six people.
Last Tuesday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said the police officers involved “did what they had to do”.