By LR Liburd
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
Investigations into the death of Constable 787 Brian Pacquette are underway and on conclusion the results will be made public.
This declaration was made by Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley on Tuesday (Jul. 19) at the Graduation Ceremony of the Police Recruits of Course Number 40 when asked for an update on the shooting incident that resulted in the officer’s death.
“The matter is being investigated by both the Violent Crimes Unit and the Office of Professional Standards. In keeping with the moral and ethical standards of the Royal St. Christopher Police Force, the public will be informed of the findings at the end of the investigations.”
The Observer was told by another Senior Office of the Police Force that in addition to the investigations, an Inquest would also be held to ascertain who is culpable.
Reports reaching this media house stated that Constable Pacquette had died in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on Monday (Jul. 18).
This information was confirmed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy and also Commissioner Queeley who, in a statement issued late that afternoon, said Constable Pacquette had passed away around 5:30 a.m. despite the best efforts of medical professionals.
He noted in the statement that the Police Force is saddened by his passing and gave an account of what led to the young Dominican-born Constable’s demise.
“On 23 June, 2016, Constable Pacquette received gunshot injuries to his right leg in the execution of his duties. He was taken to the JNF General Hospital where he was treated for the injuries sustained and warded on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“On 27 June 2016, he was transferred to the West Shore Medical Facility in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago via Air Ambulance.”
The statement indicated that during the time Officer Pacquette was hospitalised in Trinidad, Commissioner Queeley communicated twice daily with the medical professionals in whose care he was entrusted and was updated regularly on his progress.
“The Commissioner was also in touch with family members and provided the necessary support to facilitate their stay in Trinidad,” it added.
The statement also said that Pacquette’s death is a tragic and unexpected loss for members of the Police Force, adding that he would long be remembered by his fellow officers for his energy, positive outlook and love for the law enforcement institution. “He has had a tremendous impact, not only on his colleagues but also on the wider community in which he served.”
Condolences were extended to Pacquette’s family members.
“The Minister of National Security, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Osmond Petty join the High Command, Gazetted Officers and other ranks of the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force in extending our deepest sympathy to the family of Constable Pacquette at this difficult time.”
On behalf of the High Command, Commissioner Queeley thanked a number of individuals for the assistance they gave to the fallen Constable during his time of need.
“The Police High Command would also like to thank the medical professionals, in particular the Medical Chief of Staff at the JNF General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson and his colleague in Trinidad, Dr. Shamir Cawich, for the high level of professionalism displayed and the tremendous assistance they provided at all times. Gratitude is also extended to the Commissioner of Police in Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Stephen Williams, and the Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier General Rodney Smart for the assistance provided in supporting logistics and the donation of blood to Officer Pacquette.”
It was earlier reported that at about 1:00 a.m. on Thursday (Jun. 23), Constable Paquette and a colleague had responded to reports of a larceny in the Greenlands area and that during their investigation they stopped a person of interest in Prickly Pear Ally, upon whom they conducted a body search.
The search reportedly revealed that the man had a knife in his possession and the two officers decided to take him into custody. However, a struggle ensued in their attempt to arrest him and the man allegedly grabbed Paquette’s service pistol and a round was discharged hitting him [Paquette] in his right leg.
Pacquette’s colleague however managed to subdue the man, whose name the police gave as Evron Williams.
Williams was taken to the Basseterre Police Station, where he was formally arrested and charged on a warrant in the first instance for attempting to make use of a firearm with intent to prevent the lawful apprehension of himself.
The Observer was reliably informed that the officer had twice called for an ambulance to transport the injured Paquette, whose leg was bleeding profusely, to the hospital; but it never turned up.
He was however taken to the Joseph N France General Hospital by a police patrol vehicle.
Following the incident, a police communiqué issued on Wednesday (Jun. 29) stated: “With regards to the incident which took place on Thursday June 23rd in Basseterre, the matter has been referred to the Office of Professional Standards and the injured officer is presently receiving further medical treatment overseas. We want to reassure the public that we will follow the procedure to the highest standard and will keep them informed of any developments as they occur.”
That communiqué did not provide much details of the incident, but this media house learned that Paquette was shot by his fellow officer and not by Williams.
Four days after the incident, Constable Pacquette flew out to Trinidad for advance medical treatment at the West Shore Medical Facility, where his right leg was subsequently amputated.
His uncle, Austin Harris, had told The Observer that in addition to losing his leg, Pacquette’s “liver was failing” and that before leaving for Trinidad “his leg was already rotted”.
Meanwhile, this media house was informed that Evron Williams was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison.
This is not the first time he had run afoul of the law.
On Monday, September 10, 2007, a police communiqué had stated that Williams was charged with the offence of malicious damage. And in October that said year police had issued a wanted bulletin for him, which stated that he had escaped from the Sandy Point Police Station “where he was awaiting to be further remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison on a charge of assault with intent to rob, committed on September 2nd 2007”.
That case was tried at the Basseterre High Court before Justice Francis Belle and the then 19-year-old, along with 18-year-old Joseph Charles, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.