…police actions “negligent and callous” – JudgeMore than four years after two Guyana Police Force (GPF) ranks were freed of the October 5, 2012 shooting to death of Damien Belgrave outside the White Castle Fish Shop in Georgetown, the young man’s mother, Donna Sulker, has been awarded almost $22 million in damages by the High Court. The decision was handed down by Justice Sandil Kissoon, who presided over the Statement of Claim proceedings that the woman filed in December 2012. She was represented by attorney Nigel Hughes. The State was represented by the Attorney General’s Chambers.Sulker’s 21-year-old son, who has resided in Lethem, Region 9 (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) was at the Georgetown establishment when Police, who were reportedly pursuing suspected criminals, shot and killed him. It was later released that the person whom the Police were pursuing was a teenage driver who was unlicensed.The two Policemen: Sheldon Williams, of Coldingen East Coast Demerara, and Errol Williams of Glasgow Village, East Bank Berbice, were charged in January 2013, some eight months after the death of the young man. However, after a Magistrate’s Court Preliminary Inquiry the duo was freed. During the PI, it was revealed that Police presented ballistics reports which disclosed that the bullet which killed Belgrave was not fired by either rank who was charged, but by a third Policeman who had not been charged.Damien Belgrave’s parents had demanded that Police carry out a proper investigation to ensure that the real shooter be brought to justice. Later, the mother took the case to the civil court and was awarded the figure more than six years after she had filed the matter. Sulker, Belgrave’s mother, said her son was an NGO (non-governmental oragnisation) worker at the time of his demise, and that he was “negligently shot” by officers Sheldon and Errol Williams who were executing duties near the Hadfield Street fish shop.She had also outlined that the ranks were not in any imminent danger at the time of her son’s killing, further noting that he died as a result of the injuries he sustained. According to her case, she was suing for her son’s wrongful death; the breach of his fundamental right, as guaranteed under Article 138 of the Constitution of Guyana, not to be deprived of his life intentionally, and for assault and battery. The mother also petitioned the court to grant her exemplary damages, costs, interest and other orders the court saw fit.In Monday’s decision, Justice Kissoon observed that not only was Belgrave an innocent bystander, but that the Police’s actions were “negligent and callous”. In fact, the Judge outlined that the case against the State was “strong, cogent and compelling. Several witnesses, including the Police ranks, testified during the trial.In giving the breakdown of the damages, Justice Kissoon ordered that the State must pay $250,000 to the claimant in special damages to cover her son’s funeral expenses. More than that, $15 million was calculated for the man breach of his right not to be deprived of his right to life, as the Constitution guarantees. She also won $1 million in general damages, $1,040,000 for pretrial loss, and $4,680,000 for post-trial loss, which culminated to $6,720,000 which was awarded for loss of dependency.Sulker also garnered court costs in the sum of $300,000. The judge added that the damages be paid at a rate of six per cent per annum from when Belgrave died to Monday’s decision, and a rate of four per cent per annum until the monies are paid in full.