Not since 2011 has anything as tragically unexpected unfolded in the southern town of Vieux Fort. On Thursday May 5, 2011 at around 2:30am five men lost their lives at the hands of the police and since then families of the victims have been on a mission to seek justice. Here’s a recap on the goings on with this case over the last year.
March 30 2012: Dead men tell no tales:
The Vieux Fort shooting left five men dead including John Baptiste Mc Farlan, Mitchel Cadette, Allan Lenny Louisy, Myron Dupal and Kevin Ferdinand. While police reports stated the death of the men was as a result of an intercepted robbery, their families had a different tale to tell. Mitchel Cadette’s relatives said it was his twentieth birthday and he along with the other men rented a vehicle to go out.
May 5, 2012: Anniversary of Vieux Fort Five Killing
Allan Louisy’s family recalls that they were not allowed into the autopsy as they were told it was a “police case”. In 2011, they were only allowed to identify him. Families of the other victims share similar sentiments. Louisy’s family says the 23-year-old who lived with them never had any run-ins with the law.
May 22, 2012: STAR online readers urge families of Vieux Fort five to keep fighting for justice
“Everyone seems to be missing the point it’s not a matter of who was or wasn’t a criminal at the time of their death. When five people are murdered at the hands or cops or crooks in one day this is a serious cause for concern. We cannot wash our hands on the matter and say they were guilty and got what they deserved. I for one would love to have all evidence presented so I can then arrive at my own conclusion on this and other matters of excessive force.” – No BS
“When it comes to civilians being accused or arrested, we welcome the saying that one is innocent until proven guilty. When it’s a police officer, the reverse will do for us. To listen to the people who campaign for human rights accuse people of all kinds of things outside of a trial, makes you wonder if they are really concerned about human rights or being anti police.” – Kentry Charles
Where’s the Justice?:
Families of the victims have not given up their quest for justice as has been demonstrated by their consistent appearances at the Inquest now underway in Vieux Fort.
In 2011 John Baptiste Mac Farlane’s girlfriend Heelula recalled the way she’d presented the notorious ‘police list,” which her boyfriend’s name was part of to the media prior to the incident. Heelula told the STAR: “Now they’re all gone and no one left to tell the story, but I know for sure the bodies will tell the stories, how they brutalized them.”
Allan Louisy’s sister Merlisa Charlemagne added: “I only attended one funeral and it looked like those guys were beaten before they shot them. Aparchie was missing an eye—you could have seen one was hollow like it went in and the other was normal. I know these guys. His face was not looking the same. It looked like someone else. There was a huge bruise on his forehead that looked like he was hit in the head as well. Those guys were from the ghetto. They were not perfect, they didn’t kill anyone, why would you shoot and kill all five? You don’t kill for stealing, you arrest. We just want the government to set things straight. Get rid of those corrupt cops, that’s ridiculous. We just want justice. We know we can’t get our brother back, but we just want justice, that’s it.”
Heelula also told the STAR: “I don’t understand. You said this man [Mac Farlane] was doing so many things, you want to get him, you think the best way to get him is to kill him and kill four other people? I can verify the young people who died, their record is clean; I don’t like the way the police went about killing the people children like that.”
January 14, 2013: The Significance of Advocacy
“The persistent calls for Inquests to be held into the 12 police killings of 2011 has resulted in the authorities responding to the calls and Inquests are presently ongoing,” human rights activist Mary Francis told the STAR. “In effect it means police can no longer push police killings under the carpet and that instead, as the law requires, every police killing has to be justified through the judicial process i.e. the Coroner’s Inquest and the Court.”
The human rights activist says more speedy investigation into police killings is vital—so inquests would be held within six months at most.
“This should be specified in the Coroner’s Act,” she said. “There is too much delay resulting in a denial of justice to deceased relatives. In that regard, the law which limits a six month period for suing the State must be amended to increase the period to at least one year in the interest of justice for citizens.”
She added: “There is need for professional policy by that I mean an end to police brutality. Law enforcement should not include police brutality. We as citizens must ensure that police act within the law at all times.”
Francis called for a Commission of Inquiry into 12 police killings.
“Only a Commission of Inquiry will bring out the truth because given the police records for police killing for the years 2007 – 2012, 2011 was an abnormal year; imagine five men killed in one night alone. The truth must come out.”
Update: Inquest gets underway at Vieux Fort District Court in November. Adjourned until Wednesday, January 16. At the end of Wednesday’s proceedings the matter is adjourned to February 6, 2013 for continuation. Three police officers give evidence. Thus far, no evidence of the gun police officers claimed was used by the men in the alleged ‘shoot out’ has been provided. It is not clear whether family members will make statements at the next proceeding. The matter is being presided over by Magistrate Robert Innocent. Pathologist Dr Stephen king is expected to give evidence in February.