Policeman charged in death of Mario Vernon in PG Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 January 2018 00:00

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has instructed the police to charged police constable, 23 year old Tevin Aranda with the crime of Murder following the shooting death of Mario Vernon III.

Vernon, a 24-year-old resident of Punta Gorda and grandson of the late Creole musician Leela Vernon, was shot by a police officer on January 13, 2018. That shot was fatal and has since caused much controversy and disruption. The killing of Vernon has led to the launch of both a criminal and internal investigation, ordered by Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police.

There are several conflicting accounts of what took place that night but according to police reports, police officers were on a mobile patrol on George Price Street in Punta Gorda Town when they received information that Mario Vernon was in a yard in possession of a firearm. The officers proceeded to the area and upon arrival they saw Vernon running in a nearby yard towards Middle Street. The officers set chase after Vernon. While running, it is alleged that Vernon pointed the firearm toward the officer who was pursing him, Police Constable Tevin Aranda. That officer drew his .38 service revolver and fired a single shot which caught Vernon to the right side of his head.

Eyewitness reports state that Vernon was not armed and was shot to the head by the officer. Vernon and that officer allegedly had a verbal altercation earlier that day and he was cornered by the officer in an abandoned lot. Whether or not that officer in question was intoxicated is yet to be ascertained. Also, area residents insist that the officer’s account is not factual or accurate. They say that at the time of the killing, Vernon went across George Price Street, from his friend’s house, into another yard. Eyewitnesses say that he left because he spotted the police mobile coming toward the house. He was seen sitting down in a dark area of the neighbor’s yard, and based on the items found on him, they believe that he was sitting down preparing a stick of marijuana for a smoke. The officer reportedly went on to the adjacent street, snuck up behind him and shouted for him to “freeze”. The residents say that he raised his hands in surrender, and shortly after that, the officer shot him behind the head. That bullet exited in front of his nose, which claimed his life shortly after that.

Eyewitness also say that the body of Vernon was dragged almost 100 feet from where he was initially shot, leaving a trail of blood, and thrown into the pan of a police mobile. The ordeal was recorded and images were taken on cellular phones but, unfortunately, it is alleged that the officers have since rounded up those eyewitness, confiscated their devices, deleted the images and recordings, and then returned their devices.

Whatever did take place, the lifeless body of Vernon was transported to the Punta Gorda Town Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His body now awaits a post mortem examination. From the scene, a 380 Lorsin brand pistol was retrieved. Vernon’s family is of the belief that that firearm was planted on the scene by the officers. One eyewitnesses asserts that he and 4 other civilians present went with the officer who shot Vernon, and they searched him. This eyewitness insisted that no weapon was found at that time.

According to Joseph Myvett, National Criminal Investigations Branch, PC Aranda was detained pending the results of the investigation. Police have since received information pertinent to the investigation. According to Myvett, Vernon has previously come in contact with the police for several incidents in Punta Gorda. While his family admits that he was no model citizen, they tried with him to get on a more productive path in life and his murder was an act of deliberation and anger.