Dominica’s Attorney General Levy Peter has shot down claims by lawyer, Tiyani Behanzin that the shooting death of alleged child abductor, Kian Alexander, by the police was extrajudicial.
Behanzin was retained by Alexander’s family to represent them following his shooting death on June 18 almost two weeks after the police said he abducted 12-year-old Kernisha Etienne from her home in the village of Warner on June 7. The whereabouts of the child remains unknown.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Behanzin stated that there are many things, including the run-around given by the police when the family was told to come in and view the body and the state preparing to do an autopsy without the involvement of the family, which made the killing look like it was extrajudicial.
“We remain vigilant to ensure that the family receive the questions and answers that they want but this is beginning to look like an extrajudicial killing,” he said.
But Peter is having none of it, calling the claim ‘outrageous’ and ‘utterly baseless.’
“For present purposes, the most concerning element is the outrageous and baseless, utterly baseless claim by the attorney, entirely without any supporting evidence whatsoever, that the demise of the violent abductor of this child was an extrajudicial killing,” he said on Thursday morning. “In other words, the abductor had been unlawfully killed.”
He said the claim was completely and totally false “and is denounced in the strongest terms.”
During his address to the media, Behanzin also claimed during an inquest into Alexander’s death, only the jury was shown the body, which according to him is “very unusual.”
“The jury is normally shown the body in the presence of the family who identifies the body. That is lawful conduct,” he stated.
According to him, Section 22 of the Coroner’s Act, Chaper 4:30 of the 2017 Revised Laws of Dominica said, “When sufficient number of jurors have been impaneled, the coroner shall call upon them to view the body.”
“It is clear from this, that there is no obligation for the coroner and jury to view the body with the family of the deceased person,” he explained “And it is most certainly not unlawful for the coroner and jury to view the body without the family being present. As regards the attendance of an attorney at an inquest or postmortem, Section 30 of the Coroner’s Act, which the attorney referred, gives no such right and certainly not in relation to the attendance at the postmortem. Section 30 of the Coroner’s Act provides and I quote, ‘no counsel or solicitor shall be entitled, as of right, to appear in any proceedings before the coroner’s court but the coroner may, if he thinks fit, on application permit such appearance.'”
Peter stated that it is clear that any permission granted by the coroner is restricted to just appearance before the court.
“And in any event, does not extend to attendance at a postmortem,” he said.