PHILIPSBURG–A 49-year-old officer and member of the St. Maarten Police Force’s KPSM’s Arrest Team is facing community service for allegedly having threatened a medical doctor with his service weapon on the premises of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on May 18, 2017.
One year later, the Court of First Instance acquitted W.A.L., who has 29 years of police service under his belt, of charges that included pulling and showing a gun and the use of threatening language. The Prosecutor’s Office had filed for appeal and the case was heard by the Joint Court on Tuesday.
The altercation between the officer and the doctor originated on the public road after the suspect had overtaken the vehicle in which the doctor was driving.
The suspect said he had been in a rush and had wanted to beat the heavy morning traffic while driving from St. Peters, where he lives, to reach SMMC where his child was hospitalised at the time.
The doctor apparently believed that the officer was driving recklessly and had cut him off during the overtaking manoeuvre. The doctor was working at the Care Clinic adjacent to SMMC.
The officer told the Court of Appeals he believed he was being followed and when he saw the doctor’s car speeding toward him on SMMC’s parking lot, he took shelter between two parked vehicles and pulled his gun, as he thought he was being threatened. He denied he had showed or pointed the weapon at the driver, or that he had threatened the man.
However, the Solicitor General considered the charges proven, as the defendant allegedly had repeatedly told the doctor, “We settle this, we settle this right now.” He had deliberately shown his firearm, stating that he could arrest the medical practitioner “right now,” the Solicitor General said.
According to the Prosecution, the defendant had been “emotionally unstable” because his child was in hospital and because he thought he was being followed and under threat, but had been “too fast” in pulling his weapon.
“A police officer pulling a gun in violation of the official instructions and threatening a hospital doctor are serious offences. I understand that he was irritated, but a member of the Police Force, and of the Arrest Team, for that matter, should have known better and should have acted differently,” the Solicitor General said.
Attorney-at-law Safira Ibrahim upheld her pleadings made in the Court of First Instance and said her client was of the opinion that he had not threatened anyone.
“My client has acted according to the official instructions and reported the incident, which could have been dealt with by [the Police Department of – Ed.] Internal Affairs. My client was offered a conditional dismissal by the Prosecutor’s Office, which he declined because he feels that he is innocent,” the lawyer said in pleading for the officer’s acquittal.
The Joint Court will give its decision September 24.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/90563-police-officer-stands-trial-for-pulling-gun-on-doctor