By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate editor
CASTRIES, St Lucia — On Monday evening, October 29, Kimberly Williams-De Leon, 42, a mother of two children aged nine and five, and employed as an accountant at the ministry of education in Saint Lucia, was found dead in her home after neighbours heard “at least seven gunshots” fired.
At a press conference the following day, Dorian O’Brian, acting deputy commissioner of police, confirmed the victim is the ex-wife of a serving officer with same last name, attached to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) and authorized to carry a firearm.
“Due to past domestic incidents, which were reported to the force, where we took action, it was of necessity that the police officer [become] a person of interest. The investigation is ongoing and it is in a very active stage.
“I can recall there have been two incidents prior that police did respond to and had to quell certain issues between the wife and the husband. But I can’t go into the details … maybe between the region of six to seven months ago.
“I would also like to clear the air that the police force, myself and the assistant commissioner for crime had a proper briefing this morning to ensure that the investigation will not be biased just because the person of interest is a police officer,” O’Brian said.
While limited and sketchy details are forthcoming from the authorities, cold blooded murders and executions routinely go unsolved in Saint Lucia.
Investigations into numerous extrajudicial killings that occurred between 2010 and 2011 during a special police operation dubbed “Operation Restore Confidence” resulted in a damning report on the RSLPF and the imposition of sanctions by the United States.
According to a report by Jamaican police officers under the aegis of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), commissioned by the previous government, “Investigators reported that all the shootings reviewed were ‘fake encounters’ staged by the police to legitimise their actions… weapons were planted on the scene of the shootings… and a number of the shootings were done by police officers but were listed in murder statistics as attributable to unknown assailants.”
In August 2013, the United States suspended all forms of security assistance to the RSLPF under the so called Leahy Law, citing allegations of serious human rights violations, with a stipulation that there must be credible prosecutions before the resumption of normalcy.
Police Commissioner Severin Moncherry on Friday disclosed that officer De Leon had applied for 100 days’ vacation leave, which was approved.
“Before that time [expiration of the vacation leave] we are hoping to be in a position to either deal with that matter as it relates to this person as a suspect or that he will be exonerated.
“He [officer De Leon] continues to be a person of interest and like I have said, we are working feverishly on this matter and we are hoping that soon we can come up with something that can lead us to a suspect,” Moncherry said.
However, addressing concern about public perception and talk of internal differences on this matter, police commissioner stated, “There is no conflict of interest in the police investigating their own,” adding, “There is no internal wrangling that I know of in the RSLPF. The executive, we are completely united. We are all friends. We have a good working relationship.”
“I would be happy to have independent investigators; however, the laws right now do not make provisions for that. I am quite confident in the police officers I have in the organisation to investigate this matter properly,” Moncherry said.
Social media comments about domestic abusers being allowed to keep their jobs, in particular with the RSLPF, was swift.
• “The police need to get this moving; this is egg in the face of the force.”
• “If I were a person of interest, would I be roaming the streets under the same circumstances?”
• “This is sad and disgusting. If indeed it is the alleged perpetrator, then justice should be swift. Where are the shell casings and who picked up the body? Lord help these abusers of women in Saint Lucia.”
Meanwhile, the commissioner of police said he is getting advice from the director of public prosecutions (DPP), Daasrean Greene. He likewise made mention that he intends to seek technical advice and assistance from the Regional Security System (RSS).