The late Josea Ossie Laville.
PHILIPSBURG—No sign of criminal act or wrongdoing was detected in the passing of Josea Ossie Laville, Chief Prosecutor Hieke Buist reportedly told Minister of Justice Anna Richardson on Saturday. The 43-year old Laville, well-known on the Boardwalk among visitors and residents alike, died in police custody on Friday.
On behalf of the Minister of Justice, Immigration and Border Protection Services
(IBP) sent out a press release on Monday, stating that Laville’s engagement with Law Enforcement began when police officers were notified about a man wielding a machete in the Philipsburg area.
Police were dispatched to the scene at 2:40pm on Thursday, January 26, the statement from IBP reads. “The officers observed that Laville appeared to be intoxicated and was in the possession of a machete. He was then arrested for illegal weapon possession.”
Laville, who hailed from Dominica, resided on the island for over a decade. He spent most of his time on Great Bay beach, doing odd jobs, catering to tourists. Since the start of the pandemic, while the beach was empty, he would hang out at the end of the beach, where he could be seen cutting up fish, and cooking a meal for his homeless friends.
After being taken to the Philipsburg police station, Laville was processed by the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office and handed over to IBP as it was established that he was residing on St. Maarten illegally and without proper residence. Subsequently, the formal procedural preparations were started by IBP which would have finally led to his deportation to his birth country Dominica.
IBP stated that “while detained, Laville indicated that he was feeling “a bit dizzy” to the immigration officer. The officer asked him if he would like to see a doctor to which Laville replied “No.” The officer went on to ask Laville if he had any medical problems or needed to take any medication to which he replied, “No, I just need to eat, I am very hungry.”
He was given food and water, after which he asked for more, a request that was granted. Sometime after, a guard passed by his cell and observed him lying in a strange position on the bed in his holding cell. At that point, medical professionals were called in to assess the situation.”
After an investigation of the scene and establishing that the proper procedures were followed, Chief Prosecutor Hieke Buist informed Minister Richardson on Saturday, that the investigation concluded with no signs of criminal act or wrongdoings as the cause of death. The body of Laville has since been released to his next of kin as the case has now been closed.
Minister Richardson, IBP, KPSM and the Prosecutor’s Office all express their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and wish them peace and strength during this difficult time.
The Minister stressed that “IBP ensures the public that all persons they encounter are treated with respect, dignity, proper care and fed three times daily”, concluding that the death of Laville is “a very unexpected and unfortunate turn of events”.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/arrestee-dies-in-police-holding-cell-no-wrongdoing-detected-as-cause-of-death