The proceedings against former cadet office Franz Paul, who was charged with shooting a then 15-year-old Alex Griffith during a game of Russian roulette over four years ago, were withdrawn yesterday after an agreement by the accused to pay a total of $2 million in compensation to the youth.
Paul, of Lot 189 Freeman Street, East La Penitence, was on trial for almost four years over the shooting of Griffith, which occurred on April 30th, 2014, in Georgetown. He was charged two months after the shooting.
The trial, which began in September, 2014, was in the final stages as the accused had led his defence in the matter in June 31, 2017 and the defence closed its case in February of this year.
During a hearing yesterday, it was indicated to Magistrate Fabayo Azore that based upon advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the charge would be withdrawn.
The advice by the DPP came subsequent to an agreement between Paul and Griffith, with the former lawman to pay the teen a total sum of $2 million over a period of time.
Griffith had previously recounted to Stabroek News that he had been at a friend’s home around 8 pm when a robbery occurred outside. The victim had been Paul’s sister. Although he had been unable to see what had transpired, Griffith said two van-loads of policemen later went to his East La Penitence Squatting area home to question him about the identities of the robbers.
He had related to the ranks that he was unaware of the robbers’ identities. He was nevertheless taken from his home, placed in one of the vehicles, and driven around the area. He told this newspaper that the vehicle eventually stopped in front of the home of one of the suspected robbers in the East La Penitence area. However, the person was not at home.
Griffith said the accused robber’s absence apparently infuriated the cadet officer, who forced him from the police vehicle and ordered him to lie on the ground. The cadet officer, Griffith said, removed all of the bullets from a gun but subsequently replaced one. He then put the gun into the 15-year-old’s mouth.
The cadet officer, Griffith said, continued to press him for the robbers’ identities. After not receiving a satisfactory answer, the cadet officer pulled the trigger but nothing happened. Once again, he asked for the identities of the bandits and, when told by Griffith once again that he did not know, he fired a second time. This time, Griffith said, the gun went off.
Paul, who was represented by attorney Roger Yearwood, led his defence last June and blamed the shooting on a scuffle that ensued with Griffith over his weapon.
Paul had said Griffith had been aggressive during questioning. Just before the scuffle, he said he had his weapon in his right hand at his side as he stood over the young man, who was on the ground in front of him. He added that Griffith tried to grab his gun and a brief struggle ensued for a few seconds and a shot was fired.
Paul said that he was uncertain if the young man was hit but recalled officers running towards them and the young man jumping up, holding his jaw.
“That’s when I realised he had been hit,” he said. He added that he immediately instructed the officers to place the young man into the van and take him to the hospital. He later reported the incident to his commander and was placed into custody.
The accused noted that sometime after the incident, the complainant and his mother made contact with him seeking to settle the matter.
He forcefully noted that at no time was his firearm placed in the complainant’s mouth and that he was innocent of the charge.