Family of man killed by police considers wrongful death lawsuit

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Nearly 11 months after Mannie James, a father of two from Bendals, was fatally shot by police and Defence Force officers during a high-speed pursuit, his family is considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the law enforcement officers involved.

James was laid to rest last Thursday, amid ongoing silence from authorities regarding the status of the investigation into the incident.

The tragic event unfolded when James’ car was signaled to pull over during a routine stop and search operation, but he sped away instead.

Police and soldiers pursued him, claiming they were shot at and returned fire.

James eventually abandoned his vehicle in Gray’s Farm and fled on foot, only to be gunned down moments later in a densely populated street, in front of horrified residents, including his two young children.

No weapon was found on his person or in his vehicle.

Lawyer Leon Symister, who has been assisting James’ family, expressed concerns about the handling of the case by the police, stating, “I think they have handled it poorly, but it is consistent with how they have handled other police shootings. At least eight of them we have seen over the past 10 years where the public is still kept in the dark. An investigation that takes place is not known to the public.”

Symister criticized the lack of transparency and communication from the authorities, leaving the public uninformed about the progress of investigations.

“It seems as if there is a view by the police and their handlers that they do not owe this population any explanation when a person is killed by the police. We are not in a position to say in some cases whether it’s justified or not because we hear nothing,” Symister added.

The incident has taken a severe toll on James’ family, particularly his two children, aged six and eight at the time, who witnessed their father’s killing.

“What is really terrible here is that his two children witnessed the killing of their father, and the authorities have not reached out to this family to offer any kind of counseling. As recently as a week ago, we were told about an uncle playing some reggae music, and the two kids just started crying because it’s a song they used to sit and listen to with their father” Symister revealed.

Symister emphasized the need for a thorough investigation, with the results made public, and criminal charges filed against the perpetrator if warranted.

“It’s just natural in a contemporary democratic society for an investigation to take place. The results should be known to the public, and if criminal charges are to be filed against the perpetrator, so be it. If no criminal charges are to be filed, so be it. Also, we have a right to know,” Symister stated.

While official information on the police investigation has been limited, Symister indicated that sources suggest some progress has been made.

“We have also learned recently that the investigating team has identified the shooter and that an inquest is to be held. We understand that the matter has been assigned to a magistrate and that jurors for the inquest have already been identified. It’s also a question of when it will be held, and as we’ve seen growing up to the 1st anniversary of Mannie James’ death, it is high time that such an inquest will be held,” Symister said.

As the first anniversary of James’ death approaches, his family and the community demand answers and accountability from the authorities, hoping that the truth will be revealed and justice served.

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