Police Officers in Grenada Facing Disciplinary Action Following Escape of Prisoners Who Killed US Couple

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada - Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell on Tuesday confirmed that disciplinary action had been taken against four police officers implicated in the escape of three men, who have subsequently been charged with murder.

pmdicksPrime Minister Dickon Mitchell at news conference on Tuesday (CMC Photo)The men had allegedly hijacked the yacht belonging to the two Americans and sailed it to St. Vincent and the Grenadines where they were capttured by law enforcement officials there.

Speaking at a news conference here on Tuesday, Mitchell, who is also the National Security Minister, told reporters that “disciplinary action”  has been taken so far against four police officers.

He said they have been charged with various offenses under the Police Act, ranging from making a false statement for permitting the escape of prisoner and breaches of Standing Orders.

“These officers however, are also entitled to due process and …the necessary procedures and safeguards will be put in place to ensure that they have proper representation and that they have the right to defend themselves,” Mitchell said.

He said when the process is completed “the chips will fall where they have to”.

The prime minister said that it is also clear that leadership decision is a matter that requires attention as well and that the Commissioner of Police has also commissioned an investigation to review the role of the leadership at the time of the escape of the prisoners.

He said the necessary report will be submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that is responsible for disciplinary  action.

Last Thursday, Ron Mitchell, 30, Atiba Stanisclaus, 25, and Trevon Robertson, 23,  appeared in court in St. George’s  and were remanded into custody.

They were jointly charged with two counts of capital murder by intentionally causing the death of the US citizens, Ralph Hendry and Kathleen Brandel. They were also charged with the offences of escaping lawful custody, housebreaking, robbery, and two counts of kidnapping.

Additionally, Stanislaus was charged with one count of rape. They will all return to court on March 27.

The men were repatriated to Grenada last Monday, after the Senior Magistrate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,  Colin John, issued an order for their removal from the country.

They men had pleaded guilty one week earlier to four immigration offences and spent a week in prison awaiting their sentencing. They were arrested in Petit Bordel, a village on the  northwest coast St. Vincent and the Grenadines on February 21.

Mitchell told reporters that he would not accept responsibility for the “human error” in the Grenada Police Force that resulted in the men escaping.

“The police are the ones responsible for the custody of prisoners, if police action leads to the escape of a prisoner or prisoners the responsibility lies with the police and I think we have demonstrated in those circumstances action will be taken with relations to the police,” said Mitchell.

“As the Minister for National Security, the fact that I am here speaking to the issue means that from a public perspective, yes, we accept responsibility for what has happened but if you ask me if I accept personal responsibility then obviously the answer is no,” he said in response to a question which sought to inquiry if the Minister for National Security should take ultimate responsible for his subordinates.

The Prime Minister told reporters that an internal investigation conducted by the police into the incident revealed that human error was responsible for the men escaping lawful custody.

“The investigations revealed that the four individual cells at the South St George’s Police station had secure and proper functioning locking mechanisms. However, the three prisoners had not been placed inside of the individual cells which had the secure locking mechanism but instead at the time of their escape they were in a corridor which had burglar bars, and which was immediately located outside of the four locking cells.

“By being there, it allowed them to bend the wrought iron or iron grill that secures that corridor area and to escape. It is therefore clear that had the men been placed in individual locking cells which had proper and functioning mechanisms that they would not have escaped or had an opportunity to escape,” Mitchell said.

He said, further, warnings had been issued at least two days prior that the men were high risk and were also a flight risk and therefore based on those warnings it was more important to ensure that all of the standard operating procedures were followed.

“The investigation, therefore, has concluded that there was a failure to heed to crucial alerts, a failure to follow the standard operating procedures, there was clear supervisory negligence and improper shift handovers and that those factors contributed to the opportunity being presented to the prisoners to escape.

“So, in summary it is accepted by the police that human error primarily in the form of negligence played a pivotal role in the escape,” Mitchell said.