Four Grenadian police officers, have been charged with the fatal beating of Oscar Bartholomew in 2011. Bartholomew, a Grenadian living in Toronto, Canada, was visiting his native island with his wife at the time of his death, which caused widespread anger and grief across the country.
The officers, Edward Gibson, Roddy Felix, Kenton Hazzard and Wendell Sylvester are all charged with manslaughter.
According to alleged eyewitnesses, Bartholomew, on Boxing Day six years ago, was travelling with his wife, Dolette Cyr, of Cascapedia-Saint-Jules, Quebec, and he stopped to allow her to use the bathroom.
It is understood that, he attempted togive an officer that he thought he knew one of his trademark bear hugsand she cried for help.Allegations are that the officer’s colleagues attempted to arrest Bartholomew, which eventually led to his beating and death.
The charges came after the jury of a coroner’s inquest recently decided that the officers must answer to manslaughter in court.
According to director of public prosecution, Christopher Nelson, the matter has now been committed to the country’s High Court as required by the inquiry verdict. He opined that the hearing would likely begin in January.
“Citizens were still looking out for justice to be done,” Nelson said. “There was a perception that nothing was happening or nothing will happen, so this decision will reassure the public and the international community that our justice system is working, albeit the wheels are turning slowly.”
Nelson said that Bartholomew’s attempt to hug the officer alarmed the other officers and then his initial resistance in submitting to the arrest, led to a frenzied action of the police officers “and they going overboard”.
Under the Grenadian system, the inquest, a civil hearing, is in effect treated as a preliminary inquiry and the evidence heard can be used at the criminal trial. Nelson said that the criminal manslaughter charges were the first time on-duty officers will face such an offense in the country.