From the Courts
November 27, 2015
Police officer cleared of unlawful shooting

Police constable 425 Sedan Searles has been cleared of unlawfully shooting a man who had said he was in handcuffs when Searles shot him in his leg.

“I am totally happy. I have spent my whole life building a reputation and my name means to me more than money. I’m happy that this day has come…,” Searles told SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week.{{more}}

On Monday, November 16, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, magistrate Rickie Burnett found Searles not guilty of unlawfully and maliciously wounding Nicklan King of South Rivers on February 15, 2015, at Park Hill.

King had alleged that Searles had shot him in his left leg after he (Searles) and another police officer came to his house to inform him that there was a warrant for his arrest.

Searles was charged on March 18, at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.

A police officer of almost six years, Searles reiterated that King was not shot while he was wearing handcuffs.

On the said date, he said they went to King’s home in relation to non-payment of compensation of $5,000 in another matter.

“I received information and I was dispatched with another officer to go for him. We went; we met him in a porch. Upon entering the porch, I saw him sitting and called him by his alias ‘Trouble’.

“He answered and I saw him look over his left shoulder. When he looked over his left shoulder, I followed his gaze and saw a cutlass on the porch wall next to him,” Searles related.

After seeing this, Searles said he immediately charged his weapon.

“I approached him. My weapon was not pointing towards him; my weapon was pointing down. I identified myself and the other police as officers from the Colonarie Police Station.

“I told him of our business and I saw him look over the porch. He looked backwards, so I immediately grabbed on to his shirt with my left hand, my weapon in my right hand pointing down and back. I was standing directly in front of him,” Searles recounted.

According to the police officer, King got off the porch and stood while he was being held.

“I end up standing between his legs since he had just eased off the porch wall. I told the other officer to put on the handcuffs. The officer took the handcuffs from his back left pocket and held on to King’s right hand.

“When he was about to put on the handcuff, Nicklan pull away from the officer and at the same time he stretched out his left hand and grabbed my right hand and was pulling it forward onto his leg,” he further recalled.

Searles said on two occasions, he told King to let go of his hand. However, he said King did not let go and only intensified his squeeze on his hand.

“I felt my fingers going numb and therefore, I took a firm grip of my weapon with all five fingers. A shot went off. He was injured.

“He immediately let go of my hand and I said to him to put on the handcuff.

Is so he stretch out his hand and say ‘Oh God, officer look me hand, put on the handcuff. Sorry fo’ grab at yo’ gun. Look me hand; put on the handcuff,’” he added.

Searles said his fellow officer then placed the handcuffs on King’s hands.

Following the incident, Searles said he and the other police officer wrote a report on the incident that same day.

Pressed as to whether the gun was fired inadvertently or intentionally, Searles declined to comment, except to say: “What I know is that for him holding on to my hand that had the weapon that was already charged, but for him holding on to it, it would have never went off. That’s what I know.”

He is of the belief that the prosecution was only interested in securing a conviction, rather than justice.

“For the reason, they did not call the other officer with me as prosecution witness and that was very hurtful.

“They never had a case and they never had a case against me in the first place. They were not interested in justice. They all wanted to find me guilty,” Searles said, while expressing thanks to his lawyer Ronald Marks.

Marks said the prosecution’s case was based solely on King’s testimony and noted that his story did not corroborate with any of the other prosecution witnesses.

“He claimed my client handcuffed him and after he handcuffed him, removed the weapon from his waist and shot him in his leg. That is unbelievable on its own, unless the person has something against you.

“It was a really unfortunate situation and I am glad it is at an end now and that he could try and pull himself back together again,” Marks said.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams led the prosecution’s case. A total of six witnesses were called in the matter.

On November 20, Searles was fully reinstated as a police officer, having been suspended from active duty with half salary since March 16, 2015.(KW)