Police officer acquitted of threatening doctor with gun

PHILIPSBURG--A 49-year-old officer and member of the Police Force St. Maarten KPSM’s Arrest Team, who was facing community service for allegedly having threatened a medical doctor with his service weapon on the premises of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on May 18, 2017, was acquitted by the Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
 
  In its decision, the Appellate Court followed the Court of First Instance which had acquitted W.A.L, who has 29 years of police service under his belt, of charges that included pulling and showing a gun and the use of threatening language. The Prosecutor’s Office had appealed the verdict.
 
  The altercation between the officer and the doctor originated on the public road after the suspect had overtaken the vehicle in which the doctor was driving.
 
  The suspect said he had been in a rush and had wanted to beat the heavy morning traffic while driving from St. Peters, where he lives, to reach SMMC where his child was hospitalised at the time.
 
  The doctor apparently had believed that the officer was driving recklessly and had cut him off during the overtaking manoeuvre. The doctor was working at the Care Clinic adjacent to SMMC.
 
  The officer told the Court of Appeals earlier this month that he believed he was being followed and when he saw the doctor’s car speeding toward him on SMMC’s parking lot, he took shelter between two parked vehicles and pulled his gun, as he thought he was being threatened.
 
  He denied showing or pointing the weapon at the driver, or threatening the man, but said he had immediately identified himself as being a police officer and had presented his badge.
 
  The Joint Court said based on the statements provided by the suspect and the victim it could not be proven that the officer had the intention to threaten the victim with his service weapon.
 
  The officer may have acted contrary to official instructions, but this did not stand in the way of an acquittal, the Court stated.
 
The Daily Herald

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