Most police killings found to be lawful

Coroner’s juries investigating police-involved deaths over the last 17 years have returned six unlawful killing verdicts and 20 lawful killing verdicts, according to data obtained from the Coroner’s Court.

The court completed 35 police-involved inquests from 2003 through February 2020.

Jurors could not reach a decision in five cases, returned self-defense verdicts in two cases, found justifiable homicide in one case and an accidental death verdict in another.

There was no inquest into the death of Oral Pinder at the Wulff Road Police Station on September 27, 2014.

Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez found that he died of natural causes.

Just one of the six unlawful killing verdicts resulted in a prosecution.

Indeed, an unlawful killing verdict is not a finding of guilt.

An inquest does not determine civil or criminal liability but examines the circumstances of a person’s death. A retrial is still pending for officers Carl Smith and Akiel Smith, who were charged with manslaughter after Aaron Rolle died in the cell block at the Southern Police Station on February 9, 2013.

Rolle, 21, died from a ruptured intestine caused by blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy. He also suffered broken ribs.

Two unlawful killing verdicts were returned within weeks of each other in 2018 and involved the same officer.

Adrian Miller was a corporal when he killed Girred Clarke and Terique Fowler in separate incidents in 2013.

When the inquests were finally heard in 2018, Miller was a sergeant. He was elevated to inspector in last month’s promotions.

According to evidence at the inquest, on August 17, 2013, Clarke shot at an uninvited guest at a family function at Allen Drive and fired twice at the party crasher.

Miller, who was nearby, went to the area after he heard the gunshots. Miller shot Clarke eight times after he pointed his .45 pistol at him.

Miller killed Fowler, 22, on June 7, 2013 in Fox Hill.

In the Fowler case, Miller and other officers took up surveillance in Fox Hill after they received information about alleged gang activity.

Fowler allegedly fired at Miller as he fled and Miller returned fire, hitting him in the back.

A jury also found that the August 7, 2003 shooting of Giselle Glinton was unlawful.

The 16-year-old girl was riding pillion on a trail bike with Kenneth Dorsette, 25.

He allegedly fired at two reserve officers, who returned shots.

The officers hit Dorsette in the hand and Glinton was struck in the chest.

In 2016, jurors ruled the February 10, 2010 shooting of burglary suspect Hubert Hall unlawful.

Sergeant Jeffrey Cantor said that Hall swung a knife and screwdriver at him during a confrontation.

However, Cantor testified that the fatal shooting was not intentional. He claimed his gun accidentally fired when it fell on the ground.

Jurors returned an unlawful killing verdict in the death of 22-year-old Osworth Rolle Jr. on November 20, 2016 in Nassau Village.

Police were in pursuit of attempted murder suspect Nathaniel Miller.

They found Miller in the back of a yard with a group of men, including Rolle.

Both men fled and allegedly opened fire on police, who returned fire.

Rolle died on the scene.

A few officers were prosecuted for other deaths but no inquests were held.

So far this year, there have been at least eight fatalities from police shootings. 

On June 13, police shot and killed three men on Cowpen Road after an officer was “ambushed”.

Police did not report statistics for the total police-involved killings for 2019, but according to Nassau Guardian records, by midyear, fatalities resulting from police shootings stood at eight. 

In 2018, there were 11 killings resulting from police shootings.

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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