EXCLUSIVE: Four VIPD Officers Suspended With Pay Over Shooting Of Police Detective Moses President At Frontline Bar On Thursday Night
FREDERIKSTED — Four Virgin Islands Police Department officers have been suspended from duty pending an internal affairs investigation into the “friendly fire” shooting of VIPD police detective Moses President, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.
The suspensions, with pay according to the police collective bargaining agreement, were immediately instituted Friday after the four were involved in shooting of President officially “in the hip” after 11:30 p.m. on Thursday May 25.
Unofficial reports said that the officers shot President “in the back” … “with his back turned to them.”
President had responded to a call of a man brandishing a firearm inside the Frontline Bar & Restaurant in Calquhoun. He notified the 911 Emergency Call Center that he was doing so in plain clothes, off-duty.
But that message was never relayed to the four officers who arrived on the scene in Frederiksted after President. When uniformed police arrived at Frontline, they observed President telling the suspect to drop his weapon, the VIPD said.
But the suspect disregarded President’s instructions and instead pointed his weapon in the direction of the off-duty detective, according to police.
President then fired his weapon at the suspect and the bullet hit the suspect on his “body,” police said.
What happened next is every police officer’s worst nightmare — his fellow officers then discharged their weapons at police detective President.
“The on-duty officers arrived on the scene and was unaware that an off-duty officer [President] was on the scene; discharging their weapon at the off duty officer causing injury by friendly fire,” VIPD spokesman Glen Dratte said.
Dratte said that “the off duty officer received gunshot wound to the hip area and was transported to Juan F. Luis Hospital by police officers.”
Police sources said that VIPD officers (President is a police detective) are trained not to respond to a call in progress if they are out of uniform unless someone’s life is at stake.
Clearly, with people in the Frontline Bar & Restaurant when the gunman began brandishing his weapon — the incident last week was one where lives were potentially at stake.
Police Commissioner Delroy Richards Sr. and the VIPD have never officially admitted that the four officers are under scrutiny from the Internal Affairs Division. And as of Wednesday, Richards refuses to name Moses President as the victim of the police officers’ “mistake.”
But the V.I. Free Press has been able to independently verify that President was the victim of the shooting at the Frontline Bar.
The deliberations of the police Internal Affairs Division are kept secret by police and hidden from all public scrutiny. Even once a decision is reached, police managed by Richards typically do not release the results of their investigations.
The gunman-suspect was transported to the Juan F. Luis Hospital by ambulance, he said. Police officers drove President to the hospital emergency room themselves in a squad car.
Hospital officials told the V.I. Free Press that Officer President is in “stable” condition on Thursday.
The Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) is operating under the terms of a consent decree agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Virgin Islands Department of Justice and the VIPD after local police officers were charged with multiple counts of use of excessive or deadly force during the discharge of their sworn “peace officer” duties.
A “consent decree” is an agreement that resolves a dispute between two parties without admission of guilt (in a criminal case) or liability (in a civil case).
According to LinkedIn, President is a graduate of the St. Croix Educational Complex High School.
The VIPD said that they “are investigating both incidents simultaneously, as a criminal investigation and as an “Internal Affairs Investigation.”