COPS GROUNDED - Six officers interdicted, two civilians face court as investigations continue into Mario Deane's death
With two civilians charged with the death of Mario Deane scheduled to appear in court today, head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Terrence Williams, has signalled that the policemen who were on duty at the time could be charged with negligence.
Williams said the charges being laid against the civilians for Deane's killing "does not end the enquiry" on which his entity has embarked.
"That is just the end of the beginning," Williams said while addressing a meeting of the Rotary Club of Falmouth in Trelawny last night.
"The enquiry must go beyond those who struck the blow to those who were responsible for his custody," he added.
Twenty-five-year-old Adrian Morgan and 35-year-old Marvin Orr, who have been charged with Deane's murder, will appear before the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's Court today.
Yesterday, six police officers who were on duty when Deane was allegedly beaten by prisoners in his cell at the Barnett Street Police Station in St James on Sunday, August 3, were interdicted. Among other things, they will not be allowed to leave the island unless given permission by the governor general.
The two corporals, three district constables, and one constable were interdicted and suspended with immediate effect following a probe into the circumstances leading to the death of 31-year-old Deane.
The cops will receive only three-quarters of their pay for the period of their interdiction.
While no charges have been laid against the cops, Williams last night said his team had completed a timeline of Deane's activities from the moment he was arrested until the moment of his death. He said information was collected from police personnel and civilians, including persons who were jailed at the Barnett Street Police Station along with Deane. He said there are variances among the stories.
"We will explore these versions further when we have the post-mortem complete and a full medical report from the hospital. Then we will conduct interviews with the police to test the versions that they have given in their statements," Williams said.
He added: "We will be considering the decision to put him in the cell where he got his injuries; we will be considering the decision of not granting him bail on two occasions to put before the court. … Did he die at the hands of agents of the State? Did any agents of the State neglect their duty? Did they abuse their power or act oppressively by putting him in that cell?"
Acting Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds said the police recognised the duty of care and "we will be unrelenting in this regard, especially as it relates to persons in our custody".
"We are urging citizens to remain calm and we are appealing to relatives to support INDECOM and police investigators in their probe," Hinds said yesterday.
The ministry also said a new protocol is being put in place for persons charged with minor ganja offences such as possession of small quantities of the drug.
Under the new arrangements, the police will be required to issue a summons to violators of the law as long as a justice of the peace (JP) is available.
In the event that a JP is not available - or if the offender is unable to provide identification or is unable to be identified by other means - the police can take the offender to a police station until identification can be verified.
"Once identification is verified, the person should be granted bail on his or her own recognizance," Bunting said.
The new ganja protocol also said that if a person is arrested for minor portions of the weed offences but is being investigated for other serious offences, that person will be given bail with conditions or be remanded in custody.
The ministry said it is committed to making "the necessary policy and legislative changes to avoid recurrence of such a tragedy".
Deane had been arrested for possession of a ganja spliff, a misdemeanor.