Fight breaks out in St. Croix courtroom after man charged with DUI heckles cop


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ST. CROIX - What started out as a routine advice-of-rights hearing Monday for a man charged with drunken driving escalated into a confrontation between the man and law enforcement officials inside the courtroom.

Ireneus Stanislas, 47, of Estate Mount Pleasant appeared before Magistrate Miguel Camacho to be advised of his rights on a single charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after being arrested just before 9 p.m. Sunday.

The charges stem from an incident in which V.I. Police Officer Melford Murray said he was driving behind a blue Chevrolet Blazer and saw it swerve recklessly on the road.

Murray said he initiated a traffic stop and saw Stanislas staggering as he walked, his eyes were red and his speech was slurred. Stanislas failed the three standard field sobriety tests and admitted to police that he had a few Elephant beers to drink as well as two shots of Dewars White Label whiskey, according to Murray's report. When given a chemical breath test, Stanislas blew a 0.30, close to four times the legal limit of 0.08, according to the police report.

Stanislas was released after being allowed to post his driver's license in lieu of bail, which had been set at $1,000 at the time of his arrest, but when court documents and Stanislas' arrest record were reviewed, Camacho found that Stanislas had been convicted in 2008 of driving under the influence of alcohol. Under local law, any subsequent arrest, following a conviction should result in bail being set at $10,000 rather than $1,000.

At Monday's hearing, Camacho advised Stanislas that his bail would be increased but that he would allow Stanislas to post 10 percent of the bail to satisfy the amount.

Stanislas advised his attorney that he did not have any money, saying, "I'm broke," before Camacho said he would give Stanislas 24 hours to come up with the money to secure his release or he would be sent to jail, pending his trial.

Stanislas began verbally harassing the arresting officer, who had started leaving the courtroom as court adjourned for the day.

A Superior Court marshal saw Stanislas' aggression and stood between Stanislas and the officer as the officer and assistant attorney general continued to leave the courtroom.

The marshal told Stanislas he was not going to allow him to walk out too close behind the officer, for fear of a confrontation. However, Stanislas began to argue and tried to keep walking.

Marshals waited another minute before allowing Stanislas to go forward, and that time, Stanislas pushed passed them and blurted out, "That's how you does make people go and kill people on the streets," as he pointed in the direction of the officer.

Marshals said they interpreted that as a threat and confronted Stanislas, telling him that he can not threaten officers. A verbal confrontation continued between them, and two marshals tried to subdue Stanislas to bring him back before the judge for making the perceived threat.

A struggle ensued, and the two marshals, as well as a third marshal and a police sergeant who was in the courtroom, all struggled with Stanislas just outside the courtroom.

Camacho returned to the courtroom and heard testimony from two police sergeants and a marshal before he determined that Stanislas had no regard for the court or its officers and revoked the previously set conditions of release. The judge advised Stanislas that he would then be remanded to the custody of the Bureau of Correction until he is able to meet the conditions of release, including posting the $10,000 bail in its entirety.

Stanislas has had two previous arrests, the initial driving under the influence of alcohol arrest and conviction in 2008 and an arrest in 2011 in which he shot a woman during an argument.

In that case, police said Stanislas and the woman were arguing at his home when he went into a bedroom and returned with a firearm and shot her in her back, and the bullet lodged in her neck, according to police.

Stanislas was apprehended by police after a brief chase in the residential area where they lived.

At the time, Stanislas declined to give police a written statement but said that he shot the woman by mistake and that he was trying to scare her and thought the gun's safety was on, according to the police report.

Stanislas was charged with first-degree assault; third-degree assault; possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence; unauthorized possession of a firearm; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; and possession of ammunition.

In exchange for Stanislas' guilty plea to third-degree assault and unauthorized possession of a firearm, the additional charges against him were dismissed.

He was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence on each of the charges and put on five years of supervised probation.

A conviction on this new driving while intoxicated charge could result in the revocation of Stanislas' probation in the assault case.

Stanislas remains jailed at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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