83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 19, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesPartial Report Finally Public in Coral Bay Enforcement Action

Partial Report Finally Public in Coral Bay Enforcement Action

After a boater pushed for many months to get the Justice Department’s report on the July 2012 Planning and Natural Resources Enforcement Division action involving Coral Bay boaters, Government House on Monday finally released what amounts to a partial report.

The report released includes only a few more shreds of information than was provided in DPNR’s Jan. 31 press release.

According to the Justice Department report and the earlier DPNR press release, one officer received a reprimand. Both reports indicated the department recognized that the officers exercised poor judgment in the handling of their weapons and in the execution of their duties.

While the DPNR press release indicated that the officer who was reprimanded handled his weapon improperly, the Justice Department report used stronger words.

Advertising (skip)

It indicates that the director, presumably Enforcement Director Roberto Tapia, agreed that the officer seen in the videos carrying his rifle in a readied position was careless and negligent.

“The rifle should have been shouldered with a strap,” the report noted.

Later the report indicated that he was carrying the assault rifle in a manner that was inconsistent with his training and appears to have been in a reckless manner. The officer, however, contended that at no time was his rifle pointing at anyone.

Coral Bay boater Will Hudson said officers armed with an assault rifle boarded a friend’s boat and demanded he open his cabinet drawers, and seemingly in response to that allegation, the press release indicates that the officers had the authority to board the boat.

The report takes it a step further and notes that while the officers had the authority to board and inspect the top side of a boat for any reason, they needed permission to enter the boat’s cabin area.

The report indicates the officers attempted to stop a speeding boat by waving the person down but the boater failed to stop. The officer told the Justice Department that he saw the unknown “driver” park his boat, jump out and run past some Coral Bay residents. The officer said he then asked in what direction did the speeding boater run but that the boaters told the officer they did not see anyone speeding or anyone “in their direction.” The boaters were then asked to produce identification and be photographed because the officers believe the residents were attempting to obstruct justice, they said.

The Justice Department indicates the officers were authorized to take reasonable steps to detain residents for a reasonable period while they conduct their investigations in an area. However, they must do so in a manner that does not present a danger to the public, the report said.

Hudson said he wants more details, adding that he’d spent many hours on the phone trying to pry the report out of the government.

But the undated report simply indicates that “investigative reports of peace officers are excluded from public disclosure unless otherwise provided by law.”

“Therefore,” it continues, “the full investigative report of the Coral Bay incident of July 2012 will not be released.”

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux confirmed that no more details would be forthcoming.

In addition to more information, Hudson wants an apology for the officers’ actions.

Boaters said the officers cut mooring lines, put violation stickers on boats they believed weren’t registered, demanded pedestrians show identification and waved guns around in their sweep through Coral Bay.

One security camera video shot July 25, 2012 captured images of three officers conversing in the parking area near the Coral Bay dinghy dock. And while Tapia has claimed the rifle was on a strap over the officer’s shoulder, the video posted on YouTube clearly shows that wasn’t the case.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

After a boater pushed for many months to get the Justice Department’s report on the July 2012 Planning and Natural Resources Enforcement Division action involving Coral Bay boaters, Government House on Monday finally released what amounts to a partial report.

The report released includes only a few more shreds of information than was provided in DPNR’s Jan. 31 press release.

According to the Justice Department report and the earlier DPNR press release, one officer received a reprimand. Both reports indicated the department recognized that the officers exercised poor judgment in the handling of their weapons and in the execution of their duties.

While the DPNR press release indicated that the officer who was reprimanded handled his weapon improperly, the Justice Department report used stronger words.

It indicates that the director, presumably Enforcement Director Roberto Tapia, agreed that the officer seen in the videos carrying his rifle in a readied position was careless and negligent.

“The rifle should have been shouldered with a strap,” the report noted.

Later the report indicated that he was carrying the assault rifle in a manner that was inconsistent with his training and appears to have been in a reckless manner. The officer, however, contended that at no time was his rifle pointing at anyone.

Coral Bay boater Will Hudson said officers armed with an assault rifle boarded a friend’s boat and demanded he open his cabinet drawers, and seemingly in response to that allegation, the press release indicates that the officers had the authority to board the boat.

The report takes it a step further and notes that while the officers had the authority to board and inspect the top side of a boat for any reason, they needed permission to enter the boat’s cabin area.

The report indicates the officers attempted to stop a speeding boat by waving the person down but the boater failed to stop. The officer told the Justice Department that he saw the unknown “driver” park his boat, jump out and run past some Coral Bay residents. The officer said he then asked in what direction did the speeding boater run but that the boaters told the officer they did not see anyone speeding or anyone “in their direction.” The boaters were then asked to produce identification and be photographed because the officers believe the residents were attempting to obstruct justice, they said.

The Justice Department indicates the officers were authorized to take reasonable steps to detain residents for a reasonable period while they conduct their investigations in an area. However, they must do so in a manner that does not present a danger to the public, the report said.

Hudson said he wants more details, adding that he’d spent many hours on the phone trying to pry the report out of the government.

But the undated report simply indicates that “investigative reports of peace officers are excluded from public disclosure unless otherwise provided by law.”

“Therefore,” it continues, “the full investigative report of the Coral Bay incident of July 2012 will not be released.”

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux confirmed that no more details would be forthcoming.

In addition to more information, Hudson wants an apology for the officers’ actions.

Boaters said the officers cut mooring lines, put violation stickers on boats they believed weren’t registered, demanded pedestrians show identification and waved guns around in their sweep through Coral Bay.

One security camera video shot July 25, 2012 captured images of three officers conversing in the parking area near the Coral Bay dinghy dock. And while Tapia has claimed the rifle was on a strap over the officer’s shoulder, the video posted on YouTube clearly shows that wasn’t the case.