The police officers who led a mission in which triple murder accused Delano Forbes escaped on Monday, are being investigated.
The police Professional Standards Unit has been asked to look into the circumstances surrounding how the 23 year old managed to escape and outrun police even while shackled. Up to press time last night, the Swetes resident was still at large.
The deputy commissioner of police, (DCP), Atlee Rodney, said the officers who were involved in the operation in Swetes, have already submitted written reports on what occurred.
Rodney is currently acting as commissioner of police while Wendel Robinson is away on assignment.
“This matter has been handed over to the office of professional standards to carry out an investigation. I don’t really want to go into some of the details of what I have seen in the report,” Rodney told OBSERVER media yesterday.
He added, “It is going to be investigated and some of the questions you are asking [are] the same questions they will be asking and I don’t really want to prejudice the matter.”
Upon completing an investigation, the unit is required to hand over its findings in a report to the commissioner of police.
The unit is also empowered to recommend the necessary action to be taken, but the commissioner has the final say on what to do. Even while the investigation is ongoing, the commissioner could remove the officers from duty pending the outcome of the probe.
A total of five officers were reportedly on the mission which required them to take Forbes from Her Majesty’s Prison – with permission, using a Delivery Warrant from the court – back to Swetes to gather more evidence for one of the three murders he’s accused of committing in 2017.
It is alleged he killed Wilfred “Bongo” Williams, Lisue Samuel and Shawn Henry last year. He was charged in December and remanded to prison.
Rodney said the officers took Forbes from the prison around 11:30 a.m. and he was, at the time, shackled but not handcuffed. The senior ranking officer said he was told that Forbes escaped around 12:30 p.m. or 12:45 p.m.
Three of the officers who were with Forbes when he escaped are attached to the Serious Crimes Unit while two are police photographers.
Rodney said that the officers advised him that immediately after Forbes escaped, they ran after him and sought assistance from other police.
He said a group of officers from a special task force which was in the area responded, as well as officers from the All Saints Police Station.
The deputy police chief said many more officers were mobilised to search for the accused. No alert was issued to the media or on the police’s crime page during that time. But Rodney said there was no deliberate attempt to keep the media in the dark or to cover up what had occurred.
“We were trying to marshal all our resources to be in the area and it was a developing story and the media got it before we sent out a press release and all the media had to do is, as they normally do, is continue to send the message out and which they have been doing,” Rodney said.
It was a resident who contacted OBSERVER media at 4:22 p.m. and reported that the suspect was seen in Swetes, shackled and alone. The individual expressed shock and highlighted that the last update the public had been given was that Forbes was on remand in prison.
When contacted, the police confirmed the man had escaped and that a search was underway in the area.
Sources close to the matter said Rodney summoned several senior officers to a meeting yesterday morning where they discussed existing protocols for operations involving prisoners like Forbes and changes to come to avoid a recurrence.
Rodney confirmed the meeting occurred.
“Mistakes were made and there are lessons learned [and] we can’t repeat them. We had a meeting just [Friday] morning with the senior officers so obviously there are some changes that will come based on what we have learned from that lesson,” he said.
When asked why the head of the Criminal Investigations Department was not informed or asked to provide back-up for the operation, DCP Rodney said he could not discuss anything further because he did not want to prejudice the investigation.
Earlier this week the minister responsible for police, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said he was “totally astonished” at how the man escaped and he said someone must be held accountable.
He told our newsroom that he requested a report on the matter.