V.I. officer kills man on St. Thomas

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V.I. Police shot and killed another man on St. Thomas on Friday, making it the second fatal police-involved shooting on the island in less than two months.

It is the fourth officer-involved shooting in that time.

Police responded to shots fired in the area of Cassi Hill at 10:25 a.m. after 911 dispatchers received several reports of gun fire, according to a statement from police Friday.

Officers stopped a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle from which witnesses said shots were fired, according to Davina Van Holten, a representative of the Police Benevolent Association, one of the department's unions.

About four officers were on scene, and three persons were in the vehicle, Van Holten said. Officers asked all three people to exit the vehicle, she said.

One of the men leaned in toward the vehicle, and then reached for a firearm that was tucked at his waist, according to the account of the officer who then shot the man, Van Holten said.

The officer, whose identity has not been released, fired one shot into the man's side, according to Van Holten. Neither of the other two suspects were arrested, she said. It is not clear whether the vehicle was in fact the vehicle witnesses initially saw.

The deceased man, whose identity also has not been released, was transported to Schneider Hospital where he was pronounced dead, Rames said.

The Police Benevolent Association was not aware Friday evening whether the man had a criminal record.

This is the fourth officer-involved shooting for the V.I. Police Department in less than two months. Two prior shootings were on St. Thomas, one was on St. Croix.

"We actually are concerned about how the public is viewing the officers," Van Holten said. "The officers are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing."

On April 26 on St. Thomas, police shot Clyde Norford, 31, dead on the front steps of Fort Christian at 12:21 a.m. That shooting occurred just outside Carnival Village on opening night. Police have said they are still investigating, and they have not released the identity of the officer involved.

On May 30 on St. Thomas, an officer, Kendelth Wharton, shot Azamba Galloway, 23, in Kirwan Terrace as they were conducting an "inspection" at the housing community.

Wharton said Galloway pointed a gun at him. Galloway has been arrested. Residents raised questions about the police version of events that led to the shooting. Police said that they still are investigating.

On June 21, police shot and wounded a man they suspect of robbing Quality Food in Estate Castle Coakley, St. Croix. According to a police statement, emergency dispatchers were notified of the crime and police arrived within minutes while the suspects were still on the premises.

One of the men "exchanged gunfire" with police as they came out of the business and that man was wounded. It does not indicate how many officers fired their weapons or who fired first. The second man got away.

"Our police-involved shootings are investigated, and they are investigated very seriously," Van Holten said, noting that Friday's incident also will be investigated, as is standard.

The V.I. Police Department still is under a federal consent decree imposed after the department was found by the U.S. Department of Justice to be using excessive force.

The Cassi Hill killing was the territory's 23rd homicide - including two vehicular homicides and two shootings by police - this year, with 11 on St. Thomas, 11 on St. Croix and one on St. John.

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