Police say they had exhausted all other options on Tuesday and had no choice but to use force to subdue Joel O’Marde, who was shot by a lawman with a rubber bullet during an evacuation process in Point.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifton Cabral said O’Marde kept threatening law enforcement officials brandishing a weapon in the process. He also told policemen that he had his gun.
Cabral who was present at this morning’s Cabinet press briefing said, that episode went on for at least three hours
Since 2018, the government signaled its intention to acquire lands in Booby Alley as part of its redevelopment project there, funded by China.
The government had expected resistance from families but after consultation, many vacated the area and were relocated but there were people who refused to move, including the O’Marde family.
Cabral said that particular family had a court order to vacate the property several days before bailiffs decided to perform their duty.
“The police responded as usual. It’s a normal thing that the police do once there is a writ and the bailiff is called into action to execute that writ by the High Court. The police normally will be with the bailiffs only to provide security and make sure that the rule of law is maintained. However, on Tuesday, at about 12:30 p.m., police officers from Saint John’s police station accompanied the High Court bailiff to the point area,” Cabral explained.
He said the bailiff was armed with a writ from the High Court and having gotten to the location, the bailiff proceeded to read the writ to the family in booby alley.
“After the writ was read to the O’Marde family, they agreed to the writ, and members of the family started to pack their belongings to vacate the premises. However, one of the sons, started a ruckus with the police and bailiffs, using threatening language, and abusive…obscene language. He said he was armed with a gun and it was fully loaded. He also armed himself with a knife. And even though the family members were trying to persuade him, he just kept going on and on and on for at least three hours”
Police say the young man ran inside the property and barricade himself.
“He armed himself with the knife and he still maintained his threat. So, the police called for backup from SSU, and while they were engaging him at the front of the house, SSU men went to the back. The police then used what they call an FRG to break the door”
“Having done that, O’Marde continued with his attacks and continued to threaten the police. So they had to use rubber bullets to control him and that was done and he was taken into custody”
Police say he was transported to the Sir Lester Byrd Medical Center, where he was treated by a doctor for bruises.
“And then he was handed back over into the custody of the police. He has since been charged with some offenses and should be appearing in the magistrate court today to answer those charges for which he has been charged”, he explained.
According to reports, the head of that family had signed a consent order on March 21 which stipulated that a five-bedroom, two-bathroom property would be built for them to reside in until the housing development was completed.
It was also stipulated that the O’Marde’s would be in charge of paying all the utilities and maintenance of the home.
The document which was signed by the O’Marde’s further instructed that the properties should be vacated within 24 hours of the alternative accommodations being ready, and no later than March 28.