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Deane's death a painful déjà vu for Kamoza Clarke's family

Published:Wednesday | August 13, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Mario Deane
Kamoza Clarke
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Nadine Wilson, Enterprise Reporter

She is still struggling to come to grips with the death of her brother, Kamoza Clarke, and now Olive Hines' emotional wounds have been freshly aggravated by news that yet another young man has been killed under questionable circumstances while in police custody.

Thirty-one-year-old Clarke was badly beaten by police last October while at the Falmouth police lock-up, where he was being held on charges of malicious destruction of property. It is alleged that Clarke fell and hit his head on a bench after being pepper-sprayed following a fight with a cellmate. The mentally ill man died in February from the injuries he sustained.

Hines is very much aware of the references currently being made to her brother's case and that of 31-year-old construction worker Mario Deane, who succumbed to injuries he received after being badly beaten at the Barnett Street Police Station last week. His death has sparked public outrage and has resulted in a series of protests.

"It's almost like it is happening all over again," Hines told The Gleaner yesterday.

"It is just weird and very painful to read it all over again," she said.

According to statistics presented by the Independent Commission of Investigation ( INDECOM), at least 49 persons have died while in the custody of police officers in recent times. This includes at least 36 between 2005 to 2012, another 10 in 2013, and three since the start of the year.

NO FEAR OF CONSEQUENCES

Human rights advocate Nancy Anderson has lamented the fact that the police operate with little fear of being held responsible for deaths in custody.

"Despite the fact that every year, many persons are detained in police lock-ups, and INDECOM has reported a number of deaths in police custody, little is known about who is detained, for what reasons, the circumstances in which they are held, and the treatment they experience. There are no statistics published on a regular basis," Anderson said.

Hines said she would not give up in her quest for justice and has not been daunted by the fact that her brother's case keeps on being pushed back. Charges have been laid against five police officers in connection with his death.

"Seeing it through to the end will not bring Kamoza back, but we, as a people, and our Government, must be something better. We can't just be killing off each other for no reason at all," she said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com