Sunday, October 15, 2006

Coroner's Inquest on Shooting Death of Filipino Youth Wrapped UP:

The Jeffrey Reodica Coroner’s Inquest Wrapped Up with the Issuance of Verdict and Recommendations to the Coroner of Remedial Rules that maybe needed to introduce and adapted into the Police Services Act to avoid the same Tragic Event that happened to the Youth in a Day of May 2004.

Background: According to the 47 witnesses heard during the Inquest, a summary of which are now being published by several Dailies, Jeffrey Reodica was shot and wounded by an officer and died three days later of his wounds. The events started, days before when a group of "white youths" walked by a group of Filipino youths playing basketball and one of the white boys took and walked away with the basketball and some remarks were exchanged between the groups and the fight ensued. The next day a group of about twenty (20) Filipino Youths returned to the same school yard and waited for the same white boys to return. But seeing they were outnumbered the white boys fled and Jeffrey who was not with the original group at the schoolyard, but stopped at a friend's house joined the chase. Emergency received numerous calls, some coming from the fleeing white boys. Two undercover drug officers, were the first on the scene and according to witnesses, passed by some of the participants and told them to drop their weapons and they complied. As they were approaching Jeffrey, according to their own testimony, they identified themselves and ordered the youth to drop the rock he was holding. Jeffrey complied. But as they were struggling to handcuff a 5' 4" youth, they said he was able to set himself free and swung at the officer with a knife in his left hand. That was when the officer fired three shots in the Back of the Young Jeffrey.

The SIU, (Special Investigation Unit, a civilian agency in charge of investigating actions of police officers resulting in injuries or fatalities), after their own investigation came to the conclusion that the officer was justified in his action. And the Police Officers of another jurisdiction invited to conduct a parallel investigation also concluded that the officers identified themselves. Jeffrey’s friend testified that the knife was owned by Jeffrey, but there was no prints on the knife. There were witnesses who testified that Jeffrey worn baseball batting gloves that day.
Among the key recommendations of the Jury are the fol.:

1. A study to determine whether outfitting unmarked cars with sirens, cherry lights, a PA system and/or officers with police jackets or armbands would help identify plainclothes officers when required.

2. Re-introducing training in the use of the baton in Police College.

3. Requiring that all officers carry with them all use of force options including peppers spray, stun guns and baton when working as uniformed officers.

The lawyers for the officers contend that the recommendations even in place at the time would have not changed the outcome, while the family of the victim considers the whole exercise a waste of time, effort and taxpayers' money because the Inquest did not address the conduct of the SIU investigation.

The Reodica’s family lawyer, and the Community Alliance for Social Justice, an umbrella organization founded in the wake of Jeffrey Death, are both considering asking the Provincial Ombudsman to investigate the conduct of investigation by the SIU.. Meanwhile the Family Lawyer said that the $5.4 million civil case filed against the Officers, the Police Sevices Board and the Chief of Police at the time, will continue. We are not seeing the end of this yet.

Caveat: The Coroner Inquest was called not to find any Criminal or Civil Liabilities, but to find out what actually happened leading to the tragic event and find the ways to avoid such event to ever happening again. This, we all hope so.

Also the officer involved can no longer be charged criminally, but could be subject to civil liabilities and further for internal discipline, if and when any future inquiry or investigation will find evidence to support such sanctions.

For more details go the and search for "jeffrey reodica's inquest".