BVI News

REPORT: RVIPF acted in self-defence when they killed Hernandez

Santo Hernandez

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.

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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  1. Brad Boynes says:

    Could be a case of suicide by cop.

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  2. Smfh says:

    He didn’t have a weapon so how’s that self defense

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  3. strupes says:

    We expected that

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  4. Reply says:

    I regularly support the RVIPF for their often thankless and difficult work keeping the BVI safe.

    I am also cognizant of the fact that Mr. Hernandez was charged with the brutal murder of Mr. Penn, and may not have been a choir boy.

    However, when it comes to cases of deadly force used by officers, I have lived long enough to have a healthy index of suspicion relative to the justification for the use of deadly force by officers if it’s just their version of events to be relied upon.

    From a societal standpoint, that’s not a bad thing, nor should it be, and I hope my friend over at the RVIPF understands this.

    I say this not as a slight against the RVIPF, nor as a slight against Mr Penn and his family whom undoubtedly has suffered enough by his untimely loss.

    I express these thoughts as a law abiding member of society who would like to have the fullest confidence in the actions of those whose job it is to serve and protect us especially when deadly force is used against anyone.

    Upon reading this article, something stood out for me. We got a typical law enforcement response of fearing for their lives as a justification for their actions. How many times have we read or heard this defense in similar cases?

    They very much may have been fearful, but how do we as a public know this for certain? Its not clear from this article.

    Were there corroborating witnesses backing up the officers statements? The article does not state any. The only thing I gather is that the investigators recreated the scene which supports their version of events.

    I don’t wish to cast doubt on the officers actions nor am I attempting to; however short of corroborating witnesses, my index of suspicion always rises.

    The RVIPF has an issue of trust with the public. Perhaps going forward, they may wish to consider investing in some body cams for their officers on such missions. In that way, their actions rightly or wrongly can be captured, and people like me can be reassured that their actions was proper. Reassurance can build trust.

    I have a simple belief in these kind of cases: Trust but verify.

    On another note, why has no one been charged for harboring a fugitive in this case? Somebody obviously sheltered and fed Mr. Hernandez in Butu Mountain. Isn’t that a crime?

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    • Can or no cam says:

      Go tell that to the cops in the US that murder innocent blacks at every turn.

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      • Sheep says:

        Stop watching CNN and such and look at the stats, some police shootings are unjustified and those offices should face justice but more importantly; black american literally butcher each other every stinking day and that’s ok. in most instances we are our own worst enemies.

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  5. Mr. Green says:

    Four A of spades to the RVIPF. You have to endure soo much back talk from everyone. Please keep up your wonderful efforts and stay strong!!!!!

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  6. Governor msg says:

    I see that the Governor had very good reason to investigate his own I. This case. He Jaspert also recognized that it would have been better not to killed the man.

    I believe the orders were to bring him in alive, but zealous officers gave him street justice. He didn’t have a gun, vs arm officers. They could have knocked him down, but I guess live by sword… know the rest..

    His case was too major, I think he used up any chances he might of gotten.

    Lastly I think the governor wants to be sure this does not happen to a BVI lander cause then it would be real problems for the officer who did it.

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    • What???? says:

      Really i cant believe what i am readibg here. How on earth that was justice. Now we all read about what may had
      happen and we all know as it was posted that when mr hernedez pick up mr penn the vehicle he was driving mr penn in was not his? This is a question by itself. Why the person whom the vehicle belong to never came into question. He died but the truth is and the only truth will never be told now. Is that justice for mr penn and the community? Some may see it as justice but i personally dont. If he didnt act alone now that he has gone we will never find out.i will not jump to conclution but i feel that there could have better who else involve in this crime? Is there more in the mater beside the pistle. We are still left with an unsolved murder. Or if you allow me to say that this murder case is written off and cast into the right off bucket?. As a citerzen i need answers because there are still a lot of murders still going on. who is the next victim?

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      • Closed Eyes says:

        Bunch of criminal lovers who are too blinded by law and order to see what effects crime really have on society. this speaks of why Police in Chicago no longer wants to respond to certain reports in certain parts of the city … because of people like YOU!

        You know the dangers a Police officer faces and how to do their jobs better than them, then you go and police your own dorn neighbourhood and show your expertise in handling an angry man with a knife.

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  7. SMH says:

    How about using your resources to find out who did the shooting at west end??

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  8. Can or no cam says:

    Go tell that to the cops in the US that murder innocent blacks at every turn.

  9. Retired says:

    This officer shooting occurred over 9 months ago in Dec. 2017. Why did this report take so long to complete? I remember that the officers who fired their weapons in this incident were from Bermuda.

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  10. Eagle eye says:

    What about shooting the leg first

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  11. Non sense says:

    Sooo u mean to tell me these police couldn’t of shot this man in the hand or leg instead of killing the man…and then them saying is self defense…not on little Tortola we don’t need that here…das BS if u ask me…a police officer has been trained to do certain things and I sure shooting to kill was never in the picture…this system corrupt dread!!!

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    • What????? says:

      Thank you even the blind can see. The community is still left with the unsolved murder. If you so believed that he did the crime in west end where is the gun? I asumed if it was him where they find him in the abondant house with a knife it would have been a gun instead dont you think. Wise up people when we were sent to school it was for a reason. Some of us on here trying to justified what is wrong. Two wrongs doesnt make a right. Let us all pray that we never will have none of our family members to be in this positon. Because we too will need answers regardless of the situation.wise up people before its too what you telling me that killing hernendez is the way. And are you saying that crime had solve. Hey trust me we need to look futher. There is a cover up somewhere people dont be fooled. Maybe if he was alive the many mysteries would have unfold. I love law and thats what i do best. Ad i say begore more in the marter beside the pistle.

  12. bull ish says:

    what a bunch of bull ish. how u gonna have two armed officers be scared of a man with a knife. I bet they killed him in revenge like another person said above.

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  13. Ms wize says:

    Thank God they gunned down that b——-. On purpose or not I’m happy that —- — is dead. How dear you come in another man’s country and do what he did then to eat my tax money. Great job officers

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    • That’s not the point says:

      We must follow the law no matter what! He was entitled to spend time in prison, and be clothed and fed, that’s the law, even if he did what was alleged.

      No more street justice!

  14. RD EN K says:

    Algun dia se sabra la verdad de como fue esto, mientra tanto se labo la mano como pilato. La justicia divina le cobrara, Me ? Que paso con el entrenamiento e los policia, sus capacidad de manejo. Un solo con un cuchiyo y un arsenal de honbre almado Ajajajaaa yo en verdad no entiendo este nediocre informe.

  15. Brad Boynes says:

    Asi es joven.

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