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50 Gs handed over to Buckley, first portion of settlement money

Highlights50 Gs handed over to Buckley, first portion of settlement money

Steven Buckley, 45, who was wrongfully shot by a police officer and was left with injuries that have made him unable to earn a living for himself and his family, received $50,000 as a first installment of monetary compensation from the Government at about 2:00 Friday evening, August 9. Another $50,000 will be presented to Buckley this week, amounting to an initial compensation payment of $100,000, as was promised by Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

Buckley’s attorney, Richard “Dickie” Bradley, said that they (he and the attorneys from the Ministry of Finance) will use formulas and guidelines based on past Supreme Court awards to arrive at a final payment, which will give Buckley a substantial sum as a complete compensation package for injuries suffered at the hands of police.

Earlier on Friday, there had been anxiety and disappointment when Buckley went to St. John’s Credit Union to check his account and found that there was no money in it. It was not until about 2:00 in the afternoon, when he returned to the credit union to make another enquiry, that he was given the check for $50,000.

Buckley said that with that initial payment, he will address some of his family’s urgent needs to make them comfortable, and when he gets the next $50,000, he will build a house.

Buckley told the media that he was seeking $2 million compensation, but this sum was not approved by Government.

The payments to Buckley are compensation for the injuries that were inflicted on him by a police officer’s pump action 12-gauge shotgun on Kraal Road on the night of April 28, 2010. A police officer, mistaking Buckley for someone they had been chasing, shot him through the windshield of his vehicle.

The police unit on mobile patrol in the area of Caesar Ridge Road met Buckley while he was going home after doing house-construction work in the area. Buckley told reporters that as he and two of his fellow workers and friends were travelling on Caesar Ridge Road to Kraal Road, a gold-coloured police pickup truck pulled out from Fabers Road, and came straight to the front of their vehicle.

Police ordered them to stop and turn off the lights of the vehicle, and also to shut off the engine.

Buckley said that the driver, Marlon Meyers, did as he was told, and that was when the driver of the police vehicle got out and came to them. He said that as the driver of their vehicle was opening the door to get out of the pickup to see what the police wanted, a bright light from the police mobile was spotted on their vehicle and two shotgun blasts that came from the direction of the police mobile rocked the vehicle.

The men were searched, and that was when Buckley realized that he had been shot and was bleeding. He said that he got out and went to the back of the police mobile. He was then taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in a critical state.

In his report, the doctor who attended to Buckley said that if Buckley was not quickly operated on, he would have died. During an operation on Buckley, 17 pellets were taken out of his head. After the procedure, the surgeon who operated on him said that there were some more shotgun pellets in his head that could not be removed because of where they are located, and that he would be incapacitated as a result.

The police patrol commander has claimed that the 12-gauge pump action shotgun which inflicted the gunshot injuries on Buckley discharged accidentally.

The officer who allegedly shot Buckley on the night of April 28, 2010, Inspector Dennis Lopez, is facing criminal charges and is presently on Supreme Court bail. His case will be heard in the next sitting of the Supreme Court in October in the court of Justice John “Troadio” Gonzalez. That trial, Bradley said, has no bearing on the civil suit aspect of the case, in which Government is awarding compensation without going to court.

Because Government has been excruciatingly slow to address Buckley’s plight, he had been reduced to seeking assistance from the public and kind-hearted individuals so that he and his family could survive.

In addressing the situation, Prime Minister Dean Barrow had said that he would step in because the incident happened two years ago, and that GOB must come to terms with compensating the man, who almost lost his life. There must be justice and fair play, Barrow said, adding that he would look into the matter personally, especially since the officer had been charged.

It should only be a matter of agreeing on the level of compensation, with the lawyers saying what quantum of compensation level is justified, the Prime Minister had said.

Bradley said that the Government had agreed to pay the compensation because they accepted that Buckley had been injured as a result of being shot by police, and that there was no sense in delaying the payments until after the court case. The process may take a couple of weeks, but Buckley will receive his full settlement, said Bradley.

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