January 23, 2022

St Vincent police to investigate woman’s death following raid by lawmen

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images-Caribbean-Charles_st_vincent_police_343611478From Caribbean360

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Thursday March 6, 2014, CMC – Police Commissioner Michael Charles says an investigation will be launched into the death of a 49-year-old woman, who died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) one day after lawmen raided her home in search of illegal weapons last week.

Charles told reporters that Sylma Thomas, 49, had fainted when law enforcement officials found and showed her a “substance resembling cannabis”, during the raid.

But neighbours and relatives have accused the police of not acting promptly to provide her with medical attention when she suffered what later was diagnosed as a stroke after the raid last Thursday.

Thomas died last Friday and her younger brother, Alfred Howe, a veteran of the British Army who has served in Germany, England, Poland and Iraq, said he was among persons looking on as members of the armed Rapid Response Unit (“Black Squad”) conducted the raid.

Ronald “Patel” Mathews, the Member of Parliament for North Leeward, said while he was not against the police carrying out their responsibility “in a situation like this, the police might have acted improperly in terms of the way the search was done and the fact that they continued even after the woman took sick”.

He has called for an immediate investigation into the incident.

Charles told reporters that the Rapid Response Unit, had gone to the woman’s house to  execute a search warrant and during the search “substance resembling cannabis was found and same was shown to the occupant of the house, and immediately, according to the police present, she fainted.

“Steps were made to revive her. That is, relatives of the lady brought rubbing alcohol, etc., and were rubbing her, and she was then assisted in a transport.

“I was also informed that the police transport was readily available but members of the family stated that they didn’t want her to go in the police transport, hence she went in a private vehicle. She was taken to the hospital and she subsequently died,” Charles said.

The Police Commissioner described the incident as unfortunate and extended “deepest condolences” to Thomas’ family.

“You know, you cannot understand death, especially in these circumstances; but we will do everything in our powers to assist that family,” Charles said, adding he was not yet in a position to state whether or not the substance found at the woman’s house had been tested.

“I am not in a position to say, because after the death, that becomes priority, but the substance is still in the police custody.”

Charles, who also said he was unaware as to who would conduct the investigation into the incident, said  up to Wednesday, the family of the deceased woman had not filed any report with him, neither has the officer-in-charge of the Western Division indicated the filing of any such report.

Charles also dismissed suggestion by the opposition legislator that the police have been harassing citizens.

“The police don’t go about harassing people. If people feel that they are harassed, there is the Public Relations and Complaints Department. If they don’t feel comfortable coming to the Public Relations and Complaints Department, they can always go to the police oversight body, which is an independent civilian body to deal with their complaints,” Charles said.

PHOTO: St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Commissioner Michael Charles (File Photo).

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/st_vincent_news/1107211.html?utm_source=Caribbean360+Newsletters&utm_campaign=58d2d350b2-Vol_9_Issue_047_News3_6_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_350247989a-58d2d350b2-39393477#ixzz2vCafEvA9

 

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