Shooting of immigration officer ruled self-defensePOSTED: 03/10/16 7:10 PM
St. Maarten News – There was good news and bad news for Jeffrey Bremer in the Court in First Instance yesterday. The court ruled that he had the right to shoot off duty immigration officer Jason Juliet in his leg in self-defense on December 16 of last year – and therefore dropped all charges related to this incident – but it found him guilty of illegal firearm possession. For that offense, the prosecution demanded 24 months, but the court settled for 15 months, with 5 months suspended and 3 years of probation.
On December 16, the 42-year-old defendant and his 30-year-old victim were at a Chinese restaurant on the L.B. Scott Road, where a discussion unfolded about the fatal shooting of police officer Gamali Benjamin. When Bremer gave as his opinion that Benjamin had been shot by another police officer, Juliet got angry and the discussion deteriorated into a heated dispute.
“Juliet became aggressive and said that he would knock me out,” Bremer told the court. “I said, well hit me, do what you want.”
The exchange of insults reached a low when the men traded insults about each other’s mother. Juliet, who is a black belt taekwondo fighter, kicked Bremer with what he later called a “push kick” in his ribs. Bremer fell to the ground, scrambled for space, got up and pulled a gun from his pocket. He pointed it at Juliet’s legs and when the immigration officer came on to him, he pulled the trigger.
After that first shot, Bremer pointed the gun at Juliet’s chest and asked if he wanted another one.
Interviewed as a witness, Juliet said that Bremer had been the aggressor and that, when the defendant came at him with raised fists, he had executed “a perfectly times push-kick.”
Prosecutor Maarten Noordzij noted that the half-time score between the witnesses of the incident was 2-2. “Two witnesses say that the victim used violence first, two others say the defendant started, that the victim did not wait to be hit and that he then dealt the first blow. When there is doubt, it is to the advantage of the suspect.”
The prosecutor noted that after the first kick, Juliet’s attack was not finished. “That is when the defendant went for his firearm. While this is an excessive reaction, according to jurisprudence this reaction is permitted.”
The prosecutor asked the court to drop all charges on this point against Bremer, but he had a different idea about the gun possession. Bremer told the court he carried the gun because that night he was going to his plot of land where he is holding goats to scare off wild dogs. “Nonsense to go with your gun to a Chinese and say that you want to protect your goats against dogs,” the prosecutor said. He demanded 2 years of imprisonment.
“If you say something about somebody’s mother here, the fat is in the fire,” attorney Cor Merx noted. “My client does not deny the shooting, but the question is whether he did this intentional. Witnesses are not able to observe that.”
The attorney asked the court to acquit his client.
About the gun possession, Merx said that protection a herd with a firearm has long been a tradition on the island. “A conditional punishment, with community service if need be, is called for.”
The attorney referred to a case in the Netherlands whereby a policeman had fired several shots at a car. “It was attempted manslaughter, but all he got was 80 hours of community service.”
“I have learned my lesson,” Bremer said at the end of the hearing. “I wanted to shoot those dogs to protect my goats. I am sorry for what happened.” The defendant noted that he has been incarcerated already for 83 days.
Judge Angela dropped all charges for attempted manslaughter against Bremer based on self-defense, though she said that there is evidence to prove an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm. For the gun possession, the court sentenced Bremer to 15 months, with 5 months suspended and 3 years of probation. Judge