Police blast INDECOM, appeal for fairness

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is under more fire from members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) today after the police oversight body issued an erroneous statement on three cops involved in a fatal shooting.

At the start of this month INDECOM issued a release stating that the director of public prosecutions had ruled that the three cops were to be charged for a breach of the Independent Commission of Investigations Act (2010) after they failed to furnish statements and attend its office to answer questions in connection with the September 8, 2020 fatal shooting of Martin Brown on Gretna Green Avenue, Kingston 11.

According to INDECOM, the three cops, whose names are being withheld by the Jamaica Observer, failed to attend to be interviewed on September 15, 2020, “and have provided no reasonable excuse or justification”.

But last week, in a terse release, INDECOM said that the three cops will not be subject to prosecution for the alleged breach and have since attended its offices to be interviewed.

Yesterday, angry members of the JCF provided the Observer with “receipt of witness statements” issued to them by INDECOM four days before they were scheduled to be delivered.

The cops argued that their three colleagues are members of the JCF’s Specialised Operations Team and have had their reputations tarnished by the initial release from INDECOM.

“A half-hearted retraction that came after a big error. The three men went to INDECOM but the investigator was unavailable,” one member of the JCF told the Observer.

“After INDECOM placed a falsehood on its website we called them and they took it down. We had to insist that they adjust their record, which they eventually did after much effort, but it is clear they are hiding the full facts,” added the cop.

Responding to questions from the Observer yesterday, INDECOM said it had not received any complaint from any member of the JCF regarding any decision it had made.

“The commission stands by its decisions taken with regard to this matter,” added INDECOM as it underscored that its lines of communication with all law enforcement bodies remain open.

This is the second time in two weeks that members of the JCF have taken aim at INDECOM.

Last week the Jamaica Police Federation charged that INDECOM had made “spurious allegations” about the conduct of cops in a May 10 daylight gun battle with gunmen on Trafalgar Road in the Corporate Area.

In the incident, police fatally shot two of three men approximately 13 minutes after they reportedly robbed and killed a businessman in the Swallowfield community.

The police, with the help of technology, intercepted the motor car with the three on Trafalgar Road and confronted the occupants. During that encounter gunshots were fired.

INDECOM, in a release, indicated its intent to investigate the incident and noted that there had been speculation, confusion and inaccuracy in the initial reports, which require clarity.

“The details of the circumstances of the discharge of weapons were under examination,” said INDECOM.

The circumstances involving one of the three men from the suspect vehicle who ran into a nearby apartment complex, INDECOM said, need to be clarified. That individual, the commission said, was handcuffed within the grounds of the complex and then placed in the rear section of a police vehicle, which then drove away from the scene.

“That same arrested man was subsequently observed on social media recordings lying on Trafalgar Road. The arrested man was one of the two deceased. A post-mortem examination will determine the nature and cause of death of both men, which includes the driver of the suspect vehicle,” INDECOM noted.

The federation, however, charged that INDECOM jumped the gun in its statement since the shooting.

“…They would have been out there making spurious allegations to the contrary without conducting proper investigations. And consequently, what it is doing is seeking to erode the very confidence and trust of the public and driving a wedge between the public and the police and their function is now being viewed as compromised,” head of the federation Corporal Rohan James told the Observer.

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