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Las Lomas mother shot in police raid awarded $.3m
The State was yesterday ordered to pay more than $330,000 in damages to a Las Lomas mother who was shot six times during a raid on her home in 2004. Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh granted the damages to Geeta St Clair at the conclusion of her lawsuit for assault and battery and trespass to the person.
However, St Clair’s legal victory was bittersweet, as her husband Boodraj, who was also shot in the incident, was denied damages by Boodoosingh. In the judgment, Boodoosingh ruled that during the raid Boodraj shot at police with his licensed firearm, believing that they were robbers. Boodoosingh further ruled that the police shot him in self-defence and used reasonable force, but said they were reckless in shooting St Clair.
He said: “This decision must in no way, therefore, be read as suggesting that police officers are not entitled to use reasonable force to defend themselves in appropriate cases.” On July 12, 2004, the couple was sleeping with their two young sons when they were awakened by a gunshot. The couple testified that after the gunshot they heard several men knocking on the front door claiming to be police. The men then broke the door off its hinges and entered the house.
Boodraj, a contractor, testified he thought the men were bandits and as a result he drew his loaded shotgun. The couple testified that the men began knocking on their bedroom door and began firing shots through the door when they refused to open it. The couple later learnt that the officers, who were assigned to the Firearms Interdiction Unit, visited their house to search for illegal arms and ammunition.
Boodraj said his wife was shot during the first round of gunfire. He admitted that after his wife was shot, he fired several rounds at the intruders through the door and claimed before shooting he told them he had a licensed gun. Two police officers were slightly injured during the exchange of gunfire. The men then broke into the bedroom and shot Boodraj in both legs before arresting him.
In his 18-page judgment Boodoosingh said: “It is quite possible that Boodraj was not sure it was police.” Boodraj’s wife testified that after she was shot, one of the policemen put a gun to her head and made her walk to a police van. She was shot in her stomach, twice in the right led, twice in the right arm and once in her upper back. The husband and wife were taken to hospital and were treated and discharged within two days. No illegal weapons were found in the house and the couple was not charged.
“If Boodraj did not have any illegal weapons, why would he decide to shoot unless he was genuinely fearful that the persons were not police officers?” Boodoosingh said. The couple was represented by Ravi Rajcoomar and Alisa Khan while Mary Davis Holding and Josefina Baptiste-Mohammed represented the State.
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