The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) said it has been informed that residents had complained to police that Princeton Johnson had a gun moments before a police officer shot him dead during a ‘confrontation’ in the tiny town of Kellits, Clarendon, on Saturday night, June 22.
Moments after 25-year-old Johnson was shot fatally, what appears to be a blue toy gun was found in his waistband.
Assistant Commissioner at INDECOM, Hamish Campbell, this morning, told The Beacon that the police already gave an initial report on the incident, adding that the police will be interviewed this week, and a statement provided regarding the reason for the shooting.
Campbell said: “It was reported that a man – the individual now dead, was seen and believed to be in possession of a firearm and he was confronted by police because it had been reported that he had a weapon with him. In that confrontation, he was shot and killed.”
Asked to define ‘confrontation’ as used in this context, Campbell explained: “Confrontation here means the officer initially confronted Mr Johnson, identified himself as a police officer, had already drawn his weapon, and in that subsequent event the officer fired his weapon, killing Mr Johnson.”
In the meantime, a resident who claimed that he is an eyewitness told The Beacon that Johnson was shot in the back while he ran away from the police officer who had accosted him.
When that claim was put to the INDECOM representative, he noted that it is best to await the post mortem report before drawing conclusions regarding this aspect of the case.
“With many shooting incidents, people see things or half-seen things. But, until there is a post mortem, we can’t really determine. That’s the reason we like the accuracy of a post mortem which will tell us the direction of the bullets – whether he was shot from the back or the front, in the head or elsewhere. It is not appropriate to tell yet. I don’t actually have a report that he was shot in the back.”
Campbell further stated that not many spent casings were found at the scene, suggesting that not many shots were fired.
“It was certainly a handful,” he said. “There weren’t that many shots fired; the number of casings so far recovered would tend to indicate only one gun was fired.”
Campbell, who stated that only one police officer apparently did the shooting, said INDECOM investigators will return to the scene. “INDECOM is working hard; I know the officers at this very moment are looking at CCTV evidence to see if that might shed further light and detail on the matter,” he said while encouraging eyewitnesses to come forward.
Campbell, in the meantime, told The Beacon that the object recovered from Johnson will be tested to ascertain whether it is capable of releasing bullets.
“It is being described as a toy gun. It obviously hadn’t been submitted yet to the laboratory, but, in the early stages, it doesn’t look like any real gun – in terms of a gun that could actually fire bullets… We don’t have any report that he (Johnson) pointed it at the officer,” Campbell further disclosed.
He noted that Johnson’s body was kept at the scene of the shooting for a relatively long period of time until INDECOM investigators arrived there. That, Campbell said, is highly unusual, considering that the police usually remove bodies prior to the arrival of INDECOM.
“We knew on the night of the incident that the local residents were actually very concerned and upset, and that’s why the body was still at the scene – which I said is highly unusual. Normally the police remove the bodies from their fatal shootings,” Campbell added.
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