Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Tivoli bombshell ... Cops killed unarmed men bound in detention area - soldier

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2015 | 9:00 AMLivern Barrett

The tribunal probing the conduct of the May 2010 security operations in Tivoli Gardens yesterday heard bombshell testimony about how two policemen, without provocation, fatally shot two unarmed young men while they were bound and seated in a detention area, before marching a third man to a nearby house.

When they got to the house, a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldier who was testifying before the West Kingston commission of enquiry recounted that he heard one explosion, then the sound of one of the policeman's voice.

Responding to questions from commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Terrence Williams, the soldier said he heard the policeman "cuss a bad word" and ask his colleague if "you a go shoot me" before at least six more explosions sounded.

According to him, the policemen returned to the detention area without the young man.

The killings were among five the witness - referred to as Soldier Three - linked to the same group of policemen on May 24, 2010, the first day of the operations aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

The other two victims, according to him, were two teenage-looking boys who he claimed were led to the back of their house by the policemen.

"I heard one of the policeman say, 'You a go shoot me,' then I heard several explosions coming from where the two boys were taken. I heard the explosions about a minute and a half after the boys were taken to the back of the house," Soldier Three recalled.

"They (the policemen) returned to the front (of the house) laughing with each other," he added.

He said when he and another soldier went to the back of the house to investigate, they found the two boys lying in a pool of blood. "Blood was all over their bodies," he underscored.

But attorney for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Valerie Neita-Robertson, challenged him about aspects his testimony and how it was inconsistent with the evidence of another JDF soldier who testified before the commission last Thursday.

Soldier One told the Sir David Simmons-chaired panel that when the policemen went to the home of the two teenage boys, they ordered them to remain in the house and directed their mother to go to the detention area in the Java section of the Tivoli Gardens.

He claimed that after the woman left, there was a brief conversation between the policemen and the two boys before explosions were heard. Soldier One said when he went to investigate he saw the boys' bodies in the house with multiple gunshot wounds.

However, testifying during cross-examination yesterday, Soldier Three said he did not see the woman being sent to the detention area.

"After you heard gunshots, you observed her run from the house to where her two sons were lying on the ground?" Neita-Robertson questioned.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied.

"And all the soldiers who were in that area could have seen that?" the JCF attorney continued.

"Could have," the soldier replied.

Despite this, Soldier Three insisted that he was being truthful.

According to him, the killing started minutes after the three policemen arrived in the west Kingston community, with one of them saying, "You know how long me waan come in ya so."

He said moments later, without provocation, the policeman pointed his rifle towards the detention area and opened fire, hitting a young man in the head.

Soldier Three told attorney for the Tivoli Committee, Michael Williams, during cross-examination, that the bullet took off a piece of the man's face.

He said another detainee began protesting, questioning why the cop had shot the unarmed man when another policeman pointed his M-16 assault rifle at him and opened fire. Soldier Three said the second man was hit in the upper body and fell backwards.

He said at the time of the shooting, the policemen were an "arm's length" from him and about 10 feet from the men.

Soldier Three said he reported what he saw to the leader of his unit, but was never contacted about it until last November.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com