The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) has “failed” its officers by not providing them with non-lethal weapons, a firearms training officer at the police armory said yesterday.
Corporal Fredrick Delancy was testifying before Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez at the inquest into the fatal police shooting of shop-breaking suspect Bradford Brown on May 28, 2010.
Brown allegedly cut former police reservist Shawn Butler on the arm with a utility knife before he was fatally shot, the inquest heard.
Delancy, who was called to explain the training that officers receive before they are certified to carry a firearm, said that police are trained to shoot to kill.
But Delancy lamented the lack of alternatives to using deadly force.
He said, “I shouldn’t be put in the position where the only thing I have is a gun. There is no middle ground.
“The police department has failed as a law enforcement agency to equip its officers with less lethal means to protect themselves and the public.”
Delancy said an officer “cannot use his weapon unless he can justify the death of the individual”.
Delancy said officers are not taught to aim for a target’s legs or arms, as the intention is “to deprive an individual of life”.
He produced a shooting target that showed that officers were taught to fire at the chest or head.
The shot to the head is required if the target is wearing body armor, Delancy said.
“If the person is shot in the leg, the officer missed his target,” he said.
Delancy said that tasers, rubber bullets and mace could be used to defuse situations but they are unavailable to officers.
He said that bodycams would only record the incident, but in situations that go “from zero to 100, we have to fill in the gap”.
Asked to speak specifically to the Brown inquest, Delancy said that there were “real life situations” where officers were killed by suspects armed with knives.
He said a suspect could be armed with a bat, and if the officer fails to act, he could be hit across the head, disarmed and shot with his own weapon.
Anishka Rolle-Missick is marshaling the evidence and Robyn Lynes represents Brown’s family.