While some have raised speculation over the cause of death of 33-year-old Dennery resident Yves Mitchel James, police are reiterating that he died as a result of head injuries caused by a collision between a local fishing canoe on which he was a passenger, and a marine unit vessel on July 22.
Some media reports had indicated that James was shot by police at close range during an operation at sea.
A police press release late last week said that the incident occurred during a maritime operation on Saturday, July 22, 2017, about 1 a.m. approximately 2.1 nautical miles off the coast of Vieux Fort.
According to the release, prior to the collision, several attempts were made to stop the fishing vessel, but to no avail. There were three individuals on the canoe at the time of the collision. They were all thrown into the sea and rescued by police officers.
James however appeared to have an injury, and as a result, he was transported to the St. Jude Hospital on ambulance. He was pronounced dead by a medical practitioner about 3:33 a.m.
A July 24, 2017 post mortem, according to police, revealed that James died as a result of traumatic brain injury evidenced by bleeding around the brain and cerebral contusion (bruising of the brain) secondary to comminuted fractures to the cranium.
Commander of the Marine Police Unit Finley Leonce told reporters that the police adhered to proper policies during the operation and were in line with the use of force protocol.
“We acted within the confines of the law. We did all of the things that we were supposed to have done. There is a use of force policy which dictates what must be done, not incrementally but step by step, escalation of course. The use of force policy was adhered to,” he said.
“What was portrayed in the media actually did not come out as a result of any investigation, it was just a lot of people speculating as to what transpired out at sea. I can give the St. Lucian public the assurance that my officers acted within the law. They followed the use of force protocols,” Leonce said.
He called on individuals to adhere to police orders when they are given, whether on land or sea.
“We’re just performing our functions, our duties, and we at all times try to enforce the laws of the country wherever we believe that an incident may need to be investigated,” he said.