Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Cops fired more than 1000 rounds in Tivoli

Published:Friday | June 5, 2015 | 6:00 AMLivern Barrett
Assistant Commissioner of Police Donovan Graham testifying yesterday at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

FORTY-ONE POLICE personnel from the Mobile Reserve Division fired nearly 1,300 rounds of ammunition around the time of the May 2010 operations in the west Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens.

That's according to a registry of the firearms and ammunition issued to the 201 Mobile Reserve personnel who were involved in the operation a day before the start of the operation, aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

It showed that for the most part, police personnel were each issued with 120 rounds of ammunition and that of the 41 who fired, four reported firing 68, 60, 50 and 40 rounds.

The registry, which was tendered into evidence at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, also revealed that 160 of those policemen and women did not fire their weapon.

Seeking to put the numbers into context, the man who had command of all police personnel on the ground during the operations, told the commission yesterday that a total of 20,254 rounds of ammunition were issued to the 201 Mobile Reserve personnel on May 23, 2010 - a day before the start of the operation.

 

NEARLY 20,000 RETURNED

 

Assistant Commissioner Donovan Graham said a total of 18,957 rounds of ammunition were returned to the Mobile Reserve Division, in St Andrew, even though some persons still had their weapons and ammunition for up to a month after the operation.

"The ammunition expended, it would indicate some restraint in the use of force?" asked attorney-at-law Deborah Martin, who is representing the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

"Sure ... . It was not a situation of a firing spree," Graham responded.

For the purpose of the operations, Tivoli Gardens was divided into three sectors and the three-member commission also heard evidence that by late evening on May 24, they had been secured by the military.

During cross-examination by attorney-at-law Lord Anthony Gifford, who is representing the Office of the Public Defender, Graham conceded that when the police entered Tivoli Gardens behind the army, they were operating in a space that should have been secured.

"And I am suggesting to you that in the areas that had been secured by the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force), there would have been no hostile firing giving them grounds to return fire?" Gifford questioned.

"I can't agree with that, sir," Graham replied.

The commission is probing, among other things, the conduct of the operation in which more than 70 civilians and one member of the JDF died. It is scheduled to resume sittings on June 22.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com