Mother of mentally-ill man killed by police contradicts their account
Anthony ‘Tumba’ Joseph (Inset Left) Lovina Joseph
April 12, 2024

Mother of mentally-ill man killed by police contradicts their account

Lovina Joseph, the mother of a mentally-ill man who was killed by police, is questioning the police account of what led to her son’s death and why deadly force was used to subdue him.

Her son, Anthony ‘Tumba’ Joseph was killed by officers on Sunday, April 7, 2024. A statement released from The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) said that police went to the Mc Kies Hill residence after receiving a complaint and Anthony “initiated a hostile act against the officers” after which officers applied appropriate levels of force to neutralize the immediate threat posed”. The statement also said Anthony “was rushed to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he subsequently died”.

However, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT Joseph said she received contradictory information about the moments right before Anthony was killed and the lack of assistance rendered to him in his dying moments.

Lovina Joseph

She explained that after she learnt of the shooting of Anthony from a relative she spoke to officers at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) who said that Anthony ‘rushed them with a knife’.

However eyewitnesses to the shooting said Anthony tried to run away from police and that they heard two shots fired in quick succession.

“They think that people didn’t see because it is a bushy area but he had on two slippers, he was trying to run from them. People see him trying to run from them. But they say he was coming to them with knife,” Joseph told SEARCHLIGHT.

Anthony was apparently shot once in the leg and once in the chest area. The family believes, based on the eye witness account, that there was not adequate force used to subdue Anthony before the second gunshot hit him in the chest.

“They [police] make it seem as if he get shoot in the foot and then afterwards he get shoot in the chest. But according to [eyewitness] it was one instance. It was pop pop, there was no pause,” a relative said.

Joseph said she told officers that she was upset by the action taken by the police.

“I say I don’t satisfy with that. My son had a nervous breakdown… if someone come and make a report a whole transport of police and the man had one knife and they can’t control him? Someone had to control him, not kill him on the spot.” She revealed that Anthony had a nervous breakdown about two years ago and was treated at the Mental Health Center (MHC).

She also said that the information in the police statement that Anthony was rushed to the hospital after being shot is not correct as she was informed that her son died in the yard.

“I ask how my son get down to the dead house? They say a doctor pronounce him dead in the yard and they call [funeral service]. Now they claiming that he didn’t die there and that he die at the hospital but [funeral home] don’t carry living people. They kill him innocent… they could have carry a social worker with them.”

Joseph said that the relative who called the police has since expressed regret and sadness as they did not anticipate the outcome would result in the death of Anthony.

Anthony is but one of a handful of mentally ill persons who have been shot and killed by police. In April 2019, Dale Dabreo, a mentally unstable man from Canouan was killed by police after they responded to a report that he was attacking residents on the island with a cutlass and a knife. In January 2023, Errol Walker , also mentally ill, was killed by police after an altercation between him and an officer. Police accounts say that the officer fired his weapon and injured Walker in his hand and abdomen after sustaining an injury in the attack.

In April 2023, a Rillan Hill man was shot in the leg and wounded by police after receiving a report that he was behaving aggressively with residents in the area.

Police recruits, in late March, underwent training for de-escalating encounters with mentally-ill persons. This follows a 2019 training session where close to 100 officers, in collaboration with the MHC, were trained in handling situations with mentally ill patients.