Bishop at odds with recent law enforcement tactics

Chairman of the Prison Visiting Board and Prison Counsellor Bishop Charlesworth Browne
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A prison counsellor has expressed disagreement with the sequence of events that led to the shooting death of Shanell Thomas, an escaped prisoner who failed to immediately turn himself over at the request of law enforcement.

Chairman of the Prison Visiting Board, Charlesworth Browne, told Observer that Thomas, one of the inmates receiving counselling from Browne appeared to be “troubled,” but “interesting,” as the members of the Visiting Committee spent an entire session with him-  a session that was intended for other prisoners.

“He shared with us his dreams, his aspirations, so much so that two of us on the committee pledged to give him support upon his release from prison. We’ll give him that support for empowerment, [we intended] to give the guidance necessary,” Bishop Browne said during an interview.

Having reportedly seen room for rehabilitation, Bishop Browne is disappointed at the outcome of the continued manhunt when Thomas allegedly said he would turn himself in to the authorities.

“The top forces of the Force, to include the Commissioner, I believe could have communicated to the Special Unit that the young man had a desire to turn himself in, so okay, let’s keep an eye out. The aggression, the active pursuit, the manhunt should have been abated,” he said.

Bishop Browne further stated his belief that there was a lack in communication between the various elements of the Police force, and that if that had not occurred, Thomas would have been returned to custody alive.

“I believe that there was some kind of breakdown in communication, and it is very poignant that on the night of the demise of this inmate, the phone that he had in the first instance, asking for calls or whatever he was doing, he got a call from someone’s phone, and he made a call to his mother saying that he wanted to turn himself in,” Bishop Browne said.

Additionally, Bishop Browne explained the series of events which led up to Thomas’ last moments, saying that the mother of the escaped prisoner was on the phone with a lawyer before her son’s passing at the hands of police.

“He declared that he did not have a gun; the night before, he did not fire at the police. He explained what happened, and he wanted to tell that to his lawyer before he actually turned himself in, because he wanted that lawyer to have that bit of information.”

“The mother called the lawyer, and in engagement with the lawyer on the phone, shots rang out and the lawyer actually heard the shots. She called me immediately afterwards, and she announced that there were gunshots in her area, and he had to calm her down, and while we were on the phone someone came and said, ‘Yes, he was shot.’”

Thomas was reported to be armed and dangerous following an escape from the Diamonds Estate prison farm on Tuesday. Authorities responded to a report late Wednesday evening that Thomas was  spotted in the vicinity of Stables Night Club in Cassada Gardens.

According to Police Spokesperson Assistant Superintendent of Police Frankie Thomas, police identified themselves to Thomas and ordered him to surrender. He instead withdrew an object from his waist and advanced towards them. The police took defensive action and shot him.

Thomas was transported to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre where he was treated and later succumbed to his injuries.

Investigations continue into the matter.

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