By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
TESTIMONY in the Coroner’s Court inquest into the police shooting death of 20-year-old Deangelo Bodie Wallace continued yesterday, with a jury being told responding officers were greeted at the scene by a “bareback man” running for his life.
Police Superintendent Dereck Butler, whose unit was first to arrive to the Saturday, May 16, 2015 scene, said he and his officers fanned out across both McCullough Corner and Spence Street, attempting to identify the source of what Police Control Room suggested was, “someone with a machine gun in Fort Fincastle trying to kill a man.”
Supt Butler said his unit, while in the area of a dirt road between the two named roadways, was approached by a partially undressed man who suggested he was the man being chased and was in need of police assistance.
Supt Butler said in the midst of this interaction, however, officers made visual contact with the armed assailant who, upon seeing officers, retreated in an easterly direction along Spence Street.
Supt Butler said his unit, inclusive of Assistant Superintendent of Police Alexander Pierre, Detective Constable 2790 Jara McPhee, Sargent 771 Kenneth Greenslade and Police Constable 2823 Jahmal Rolle, the interested parties in the inquest, pursued this armed assailant on foot, leaving Supt Butler to retreat to his vehicle alone.
It is understood that at this point, the group of officers encountered the deceased and at least three other males, who engaged them in gunfire.
Continuing his testimony yesterday, Supt Butler said he drove his unmarked police cruiser over to Mason’s Addition with a view to corner the armed assailants, but in the process of doing so, lost sight of his unit.
A visibly shaken Supt Butler fought back tears as he recounted the ordeal yesterday, telling the court he feared he had lost everything after hearing a “rapid succession of rounds.”
He said the unit went in only with guidance provided by the Police Control Room and the information provided at the scene by the unnamed male in search of safety. He said these two accounts quickly gave way to a terrifying ordeal that left him forever shaken.
Supt Butler added that his unit was pinned down in a dark area, where he heard one single round followed by continuous high-powered rounds.
“If I hear one, one, one shots, then I know that my officers have a fighting chance. But when I hear [continuous machine gun fire] then I know.”
With tears dripping down his face, he told the court: “I felt like I was by myself… like I had lost everything… I thought anything could’ve happened.”
Supt Butler was one of three officers to take the stand yesterday, all of whom give an account of their involvement with either the pursuit of the armed assailants during the morning in question, or their role in the investigations following the gun battle between police and the group of armed men.
Woman Constable 3334 Brianna Mackey testified that she interacted with two complainants brought into the Central Police Station following the incident.
Throughout her testimony she indicated that these two complainants suggested to police that their lives and property were, in some way threatened by the deceased and others.
Specifically, WC 3334 Mackey said one of the complainants identified the deceased by his alias “Fingers.” and named him as the assailant who had stuck a gun in his back moments before police arrived.
WC 3334 Mackey said following her interview of these two complainants at the Central Police Station, the men were transferred to the Central Detective Unit’s University Drive offices for further questioning.
According to reports, officers were responding to gunfire in the area of Fort Fincastle and Mason’s Addition when they encountered the deceased, with three other men.
Two of the men were arrested after the incident and a fourth man was, at the time of the incident, still being pursued.
“Quick action by police has resulted in the arrest of two suspects who opened fired at them and the fatal shooting of another suspect who also opened fire on police,” a police report relating to the incident noted.
Police said they recovered a Glock pistol from the deceased, and an AK-47 assault rifle that was dropped by one of the men who was arrested at the scene.
The officers are represented by attorney K Melvin Munroe, while Anishka Missick sits as marshall in the inquest.
The case will continue today before Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez.