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Wayne Munroe: Police should be presumed innocent until proven guilty

NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe. Photo: Austin Fernander

NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe. Photo: Austin Fernander

By JADE RUSSELL

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe said yesterday that just as others are presumed innocent until proven guilty, police should be given the same treatment.

On Monday police shot a wanted suspect dead in Gamble Heights after he allegedly pulled a gun on officers. Prior to that incident, police said a teenager allegedly involved in an armed robbery was fatally shot on Saturday after pulling a gun on officers.

Mr Munroe said based on the information he received in both cases the suspects fired at the police.

“Our system assumes that criminals, people who are put before the courts as criminals are innocent until they’re proven guilty. The police deserve at least that much.

“The public would have seen we’ve upped the use of body cams and dash cams. Police officers are put before the court in circumstances that are appropriate and that will continue to happen. But we will continue to give the police the same benefit of the doubt that we give persons who go before the court charged with crimes,” Mr Munroe said.

However, the lack of public inquests to determine the lawfulness of police-involved shootings has also been alarming to some. Two years ago, inquests were initially delayed because of COVID-19.

In April, Mr Munroe confirmed that police related coroner’s inquests had not resumed as the director of public prosecutions has yet to appoint a lawyer to marshal the cases.

When asked about the Coroner’s Court in relation to the police involved shootings, Mr Munroe said the police will do their duty whether the court is sitting or not.

“The issue of the Coroner’s Court, it’s just a matter of the court adjudicating who died, where they died, the manner of their death. The Coroner’s Court does not adjudicate responsibility one way or the other. That’s what the Coroner’s Act says.

 “And so, the police will do their duty, whether the Coroner’s Court is sitting or not sitting, they will continue to do it.”

 On Tuesday, when contacted for comment, attorney Christina Galanos told The Tribune addressing police-involved killings is urgent because it affects the public’s confidence in the police.

 “What is going to happen is that the public confidence in the police force is going to whittle away where persons are being killed by police officers, rightly or wrongly, because there are justifiable police involved killings. But that needs to be properly determined by a court. And if we don’t get down to doing that, sooner or later, the public confidence in the police force and the court system is going to go down - is going to decrease. So, I think we need to act with a matter of urgency to get it up and running,” Ms Galanos said on Tuesday.