General — 20 January 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Policeman arraigned on manslaughter charge for killing Mario “Jun Jun” Vernon

DANGRIGA TOWN, Tues. Jan. 17, 2018– The policeman who reportedly shot and killed Mario “Jun Jun” Vernon, 24, the grandson of Brukdown queen and national hero Leela Vernon, was charged with manslaughter and arraigned In the Dangriga Magistrate’s Court. He was released on a $10,000 bail.

Constable Tevin Jay Aranda, 23, had to be transported from Punta Gorda Town to Dangriga Town, because there was no magistrate in Punta Gorda to read the charge to him.

Apart from arraigning Aranda and offering him bail, the court also ordered Aranda to surrender his travel documents and not to interfere with prosecution witnesses.

In addition, he is to sign in at the Dangriga Police Station every Friday.

On Saturday night, January 13, according to a police press release on the incident that was sent out on Sunday, police reportedly received a call that Vernon was armed with a handgun and that he was in a yard on George Price Street.

Police were dispatched to the area, and according to their report, Vernon pointed a handgun at Aranda, who, fearing for his life, shot him in the head. This report, however, has been disputed by witnesses of the incident.

Vernon’s family reacted to the news of the charge and subsequent arraignment through a statement issued by their attorney, Leroy Banner.

Banner said in his statement, “The family of the late Mario Vernon is flabbergasted to learn that PC Tevin Aranda was charged with manslaughter, and not murder, when all the evidence points to murder. There are several eyewitnesses who have described in details how PC Aranda waylaid the deceased and then executed him in cold blood.

“The family finds it strange that the police officer shot Mr. Vernon, who was unarmed, behind the head….,” said the statement.

The community in Punta Gorda continues to dispute the police’s claim that a gun was found on Vernon. Witnesses to the incident are insisting that Vernon had no weapon, and in fact, was running from the police when he was shot in the back of the head.

PC Aranda is scheduled to return to court on April 16.

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Deshawn Swasey

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