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Police Officer found not guilty of wounding, unlawful discharge of firearm

Police Officer found not guilty of wounding, unlawful discharge of firearm


Tears of joy flooded the eyes of Police Constable Orthwel ‘OB’ John yesterday, when after being on suspension for nine months, he was found not guilty of wounding and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

John, who was suspended from police duty on half pay on December 29, last year, was charged that on June 22, 2015 he wounded Kevin Neil of Penniston and unlawfully discharged his firearm on that same date contrary to Section 185 and section 174 of chapter 171/09 of the criminal code.

When John took the stand at the Serious Offences Court yesterday, he recalled being at the opening of a bridge at Penniston on the said date when the music started “chipping out.”{{more}}

According to John, the disc jockey asked him to speak to Neil, so he approached him and tapped him on the shoulder and identified himself as a police officer.

John further told the court that Neil responded, “O.B ah long time me nuh like yo,” and proceeded to shove him (John). The confrontation ended with the two men in a scuffle and Neil choking John on the ground.

John, who was at the time attached to the Special Patrol Unit of the police force, said that during the scuffle he drew his service pistol, a Glock .40, and shot Neil in the leg because he felt he was about to die and that was the only body part visible to him.

John testified that contrary to what other witnesses had said, the only separation in the fight was when Neil got shot.

Lawyer for the crown, prosecutor Carl Williams said that John fired his gun because he felt humiliated after the fight and acted in retaliation.

However, John advanced that his version of the incident was the correct one. The police officer further stated that 22 persons gave statements against him and none of them said what actually happened.

Yesterday, during testimony in court, Chris Walsh, a welder of Vermont, backed John’s version of the events but initially, he had given the police a statement in favour of Neil. Walsh told the court he changed his evidence because he wanted to speak the truth.

In his final submission, Williams said that self defense does not arrive at all in the case and that the prosecution presented overwhelming evidence of the unlawful act.

Williams recalled that Neil said in his evidence that John came up from behind him and shot him.

Defence attorney Ronald Marks, in turn said that in Neil’s evidence he stated that he was intoxicated and also was smoking marijuana on the night in question. Marks argued that the three witnesses that appeared before the court recalled the incident differently.

He held that the case is a ploy to extract money from the police officer and to also ruin his career, which would open a window of crime in the area.

Marks asserted that the prosecution’s evidence had no grounds for a conviction and asked that John be reprimanded and discharged of the matter.

Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias said that she reviewed the evidence and charges on more than one occasion and found that there were too many inconsistencies before the court.

Shortly after Browne-Matthias’ decision, Williams told reporters outside of the court that he intends to appeal the matter because of the “overwhelming evidence” he presented in court.

At press time yesterday, it was not known if, or how soon John would be reinstated(AS).