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Closing Submissions In Smith Inquest

The coroner’s inquest into the death of Jamie Smith drew one step closer to conclusion yesterday as attorneys made their closing submissions in the matter.

Smith, 35, died in February while in police custody at the Central Detective Unit (CDU).

A pathologist determined that his cause of death was asphyxia – a lack of oxygen.

Inspector Ezra Maycock, Sergeant Keno Smith, Corporal Brian Roache and Corporal Sterlin Knowles are on administrative leave in relation to Smith’s death.

During her closing submissions, Christina Galanos, who represents the Smith family, told the three-woman, two-man jury not to judge Smith because he is not on trial.

She said Smith was denied that because the officers acted as judge, jury and executioner.

The attorney said Smith would have gone to trial and if convicted would have gone to prison, but would not have gotten the death penalty because he did not commit a capital offence.

Ms. Galanos urged the jury to use their common sense and said that the officers on administrative leave are simply trying to hide behind section 103 of the penal code, which states that officers have the right to kill a suspect if he is trying to escape – but that the killing must be the last resort.

She also suggested Corporal Roach, who admitted that he used a sleep hold to restrain Smith, used the hold incorrectly because it killed Smith.

The attorney warned that this situation must be checked and a signal must be sent to officers that they are not above the law.

“You have to ask yourself this question: did four men have to kill him to restrain him,” Ms. Galanos said.

Meanwhile, Wayne Munroe, who represents the officers, told the jury that he faults the police officers for not shooting Smith.

He argued that Smith could have gotten a hold of one of the officer’s guns and caused damage.

The attorney reminded that it is an offence for an officer to allow a suspect to escape and that Smith was trying to escape because he did not want to go to prison.

He told the jury that they are there to determine the facts and not to speculate and so they cannot speculate that Smith was choked.

Mr. Munroe said the jury must be careful in their deliberations because the outcome has far reaching consequences.

The attorney said if you tell the police that they can’t use the sleep hold to restrain someone, which is used by police officers all over the world, then you have to ask how suspects can be restrained.

“These [officers] are who we have deputised to deal with the people who we don’t want to deal with. They have the right to restrain those people,” Mr. Munroe said.

Acting Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez is presiding over the matter.

She is expected to sum up the case on September 5.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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