An independent summary report indicates that local police acted in self-defence when they fatally shot Santo Yamarco Hernandez last December.
The two officers who were involved in the incident will, therefore, not face any sanctions for Hernandez’s death.
“I am pleased that the investigators have found that the officers involved acted lawfully in carrying out their duties and were acting in defence of their lives and those of their colleagues,” Governor Augustus Jaspert said on Thursday while releasing the findings of the investigation into Hernandez’s death.
The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) conducted the investigation.
Though there as no foul play involved, the governor said he regrets that a life has been lost. He then extended his sympathies to Hernandez’s family.
Police were brave
The Governor, however, noted the bravery of local police force.
“Police Officers have to make difficult decisions every day to protect our safety and security and I am grateful for their bravery and dedication to serving the public,” he said.
Meanwhile, a summary and a confidential report were drafted from the investigation and Governor Jaspert said members of the public will not be able to access the confidential report because it contains operational and personal details that are not ‘appropriate’ for public consumption.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as Her Majesty’s Coroner, both received copies of the two reports.
The governor also said there are lessons to be taken away from the incident.
He said Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews is now applying detailed recommendations as a result of the report.
Police Commissioner of the RTCIPF James Smith said his investigative officers arrived in the territory two days after the incident occurred.
He said after being briefed on the incident, all of the weapons used that day had been preserved and sealed and handed over to his officers.
“The enquiry was conducted with all due speed given the serious nature of the incident,” he said.
All the officers involved in the planning and actual operation were identified and full statements obtained from them, he further said.
“It was ascertained that two officers had fired shots re-visited the scene, along with the investigators, in order that the investigators might gain a complete understanding of where both officers had been positioned when they discharged their weapons.”
Hernandez attacked police first
He said in addition to the investigation, a post-mortem was carried out by the Pathologist who confirmed that Hernandez had died as a result of a gunshot wound.
“Both officers gave accounts in their statements that they perceived that at the time, their colleagues and their lives were in imminent danger of being taken by the armed assailant Santo Yamarco Hernandez when he charged at them with a knife,” he explained.
The RTCIPF commissioner said evidence from witnesses and at the crime scene supported their statement.
Hernandez, a Dominican Republic native was one of three inmates who were still at large following a massive prison break in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma last year.
He was charged with the murder of Alston Penn and was fatally shot during a police operation in Butu Mountain.
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