Wed | Sep 20, 2017

JDF officer saved many lives - Tivoli resident

Published:Wednesday | September 16, 2015 | 9:00 AMLivern Barrett

A resident of Tivoli Gardens yesterday had high praises for one senior Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) officer who commanded troops during the May 2010 police-military operations in her west Kingston community, testifying that his actions may have prevented the deaths of several persons.

Minnette Lindsay told the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry that Major Garth Anderson stepped in and stopped the abuse of citizens by members of the JDF.

"You have a set a soldiers weh come [into Tivoli Gardens]. Dem woulda just kill off everybody inna Garden. Him a one a di soldier dem weh save Lizard Town people dem. Him a one a di soldier weh save a lot a people inna Lizard Town," Lindsay said.

"Why you say he saved many persons' lives?" commissioner Professor Anthony Harriott questioned.

"You see when dem just a come a building back (entrance to Dreckett Place), a run come upstairs, he was the one who said, 'Hold your fire!', cuss a bad word and say, 'Hold your fire!', like him a tell dem seh don't shoot," she recounted.

"And when the soldiers a abuse the man dem, him tell dem say 'No', but him a tell dem inna fi dem language ... . A tell dem say, 'No, don't hurt them. Don't hurt them'," she added.

Lindsay also revealed that Lloyd D'Aguilar, convener of the Tivoli Committee, visited her Tivoli Gardens home a day after Anderson testified at the hearings in June and took a statement from her about the conduct of members of the security forces.

That statement, Lindsay admitted during cross-examination, was a combination of things she heard from other residents and things she knew.

As an example, she testified during her evidence-in-chief that she saw Anderson sitting on a rail close to where a JDF soldier fatally shot a man - identified as Sydney Clarke - who was believed to be of unsound mind.

CHANGING STORY

Lindsay told the commission that she watched from a window as the soldier shot Clarke once in the head as he ran past a truck loaded with other persons who had been detained in the operation.

But responding to questions from senior legal counsel to the commission Garth McBean, she admitted that she didn't know Anderson's name until he gave evidence before the three-member panel on July 26 and that her claim about witnessing Clarke's death was not included in a statement she gave to the Office of the Public Defender in May 2011.

Later, Lindsay admitted that she never actually witnessed Clarke getting shot. Instead, she conceded that she only found out after a 12-year-old girl, who went to identify the body, came back and told residents he had been shot in the head.

A post-mortem report cited by attorneys for the JDF indicates that Clarke received gunshot wounds to the chest, shoulder, stomach, legs, and thigh and died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest.

Lindsay also testified that she saw Clarke's body lying on Dreckett Place for two days before it was removed by a military vehicle, but later admitted that she did not see the body.

"People seh dem see the body out there," she said as she sought to explain the conflicting testimony.

The hearing continues today.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com