Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Dr. Raymond King suggested yesterday that Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe should not have disclosed information about the mental health of an RBDF marine who was shot and killed by police on Monday.
“The honorable minister was advised by myself based on the advice from my force medical officer and he took the liberty of disclosing that to the public,” said King during an Office of the Prime Minister press briefing.
“I see it as privileged information between a physician, a medical professional, and the client.
“So, I would want to refrain from any comment on his medical condition without consent of the family.
“That was one of the things the family was concerned about when I met with them, the disclosure of information of such nature without the consent of the family.”
Police shot and killed Leading Seaman Rodney Adderley on Monday morning, claiming that he had charged at officers.
Many in the public questioned the police’s version of what transpired.
However, when asked about the incident on Tuesday, Munroe said Adderley had mental challenges, adding that he reviewed body camera footage of the incident and it is consistent with what police reported.
Munroe told reporters the marine had received counseling and psychiatric assistance.
King said he has been personally aggrieved by the incident.
However, he said that much of the frustration being experienced in the public is a result of “erroneous” information.
“While I acknowledge the grief and pain being experienced, I want to recognize the level of anger, frustration and bitterness also being experienced and demonstrated,” he said.
“Most of it, I can assure you, is being influenced by inaccurate and erroneous information.”
King said the family will see the body camera footage at the time of the coroner’s inquest.
“They were relatively satisfied with understanding that process. They were more concerned with the timeline of when it may occur.”
He added, “We sort of guided them against the call to have this video made public because it could be disturbing to the family and it may not be something that the family wants disclosed to the public.”
Asked yesterday whether he believes the situation should have been handled differently from a law enforcement perspective, King said that is for the coroner to determine.
“While I am tempted to answer the question as posed, I would choose to exercise great restraint,” he said.
“Other than what has been disclosed already by the commissioner, the minister of national security and our joint statement that the circumstances are consistent with the police report, I wish not to make a determination nor to place a judgment and to prejudice that matter because what has been overshadowed is the role of the coroner in this instance.
“The coroner’s job is to look at the video, look at the circumstances and make a determination whether the use of deadly force was justified or appropriate in that case.
“And I think I’m not qualified to make that decision.”
King said there needs to be more emphasis on training junior members of the RBDF on protocols that ought to be followed when interacting with police officers.
“I am satisfied that emphasis must now be placed from the training area to persons that we are recruiting, the more junior persons, we will now have to establish a protocol, a written protocol, for the use of liaison officers and, so, once a police [officer] interacts with any member of any service, there is a certain protocol to follow,” he said.
“But we need to get it during the new entry training phase in order to change the culture and to ensure that, not only at the top do we enjoy this mutually beneficial relationship, but that the younger persons, whose mindsets… are inculcated with the mindset that we must always maintain, at a minimum, professional relationships between the agencies.”
King was also asked whether he is concerned that such incidents are leading to an erosion of public trust in the armed forces.
“I am certain that the number of police-involved shootings last year and probably the previous years has a significant impact and influence on the public’s perception but I believe from my heart that the credibility and the trust of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) is still intact,” he said.
“It is just a matter of how these matters are dealt with once they unfortunately occur.
“The decision to use deadly force is a personal decision for the officer. He, or she, once they cross that line, they must be satisfied that they would have made the right decision. And they could very likely be held to account by a coroner or a jury of their peers.
“And only they can explain the circumstances and the fear experienced that would have warranted the use of deadly force.”