What part does race play in the community’s reaction to the Johan Bjerkhamn sentence?
In a highly unusual comment, Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne publicly criticized Barbados DPP Charles Leacock (photo above) for dropping the manslaughter charge against Johan Bjerkhamn in the accidental shooting death of his son.
“The loss of a child’s life in the manner herein accepted by all parties is serious enough to merit a custodial sentence, even if other relevant considerations lead the court to exercise its discretion not to order such,”
Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne in The Nation: Charge Regrets)
For the record, we at Barbados Free Press are no supporters of DPP Charles Leacock. In our opinion he should have been fired and gone to jail on two occasions unrelated to the Bjerkhamn case. Leacock is corrupt and has a record for abusing women and the law. (Read BFP’s Secret Withdrawal Of Bribery Charges Against Barbados Cop Stinks Of Corruption At The Highest Levels and Barbados Chief Prosecutor: Woman “provoked” her killer by refusing sex, therefore not murder.)
But in relation to the Bjerkhamn shooting, Leacock made the correct decision as we’ve stated in our post – BFP’s Opinion: No jail sentence necessary for Johan Bjerkhamn, but larger issues ignored
Bjerkhamn’s actions on the day his son died came nowhere near the test for manslaughter. He blew his own hand apart as he was handling the Glock pistol, with the bullet traveling on to kill his own 11 year old son after passing through his hand. Stupid? Yes. A moment’s carelessness that he will regret for the rest of his days? Yes. But manslaughter? Give it a rest. It’s not even close.
Coveted Christmas sentencing: Bjerkhamn’s case was adjourned to the coveted sentencing period of the few days before Christmas. This was a transparently manipulative technique to garner sympathy for the accused. It was unnecessary and on an emotional level almost made me want to see him thrown in jail just because we Bajans are tired of seeing the justice system played like a piano by the elites.
Race might have played a role – in the calls to have Bjerkhamn imprisoned.
Some of the reader comments here at BFP and elsewhere on the internet voice the opinion that the manslaughter charge was dropped because Bjerkhamn is white. When he originally left the island for medical treatment after the shooting there was widespread upset because some people, (including some BFP staff) believed he was given special treatment because of his status as a rich white elite.
Now that the facts of the case are fully out in the open in court, it is obvious that the death of 11 year old Luke Bjerkhamn involved one careless moment – probably only a second – with none of the history or other actions and intents necessary to justify manslaughter.
But some folks would love to see Bjerkhamn go to jail just for the pleasure of seeing a rich white elite behind bars. That, my friends, is a simple truth that is behind much of the ‘outrage’ over the reduced charges and sentencing. If you wanted to see Bjerkhamn in jail, look into your own heart and answer yourself truthfully… Did you just want to see one of them behind bars for a time?