Wed | Aug 16, 2017

No bodies removed from houses, say cops

Published:Wednesday | November 4, 2015 | 11:00 AMLivern Barrett

Two policemen who helped collect a total of 25 bodies throughout west Kingston over the first two days of the May 2010 operations in Tivoli Gardens yesterday testified that none of the deceased were taken from inside homes.

The assertions by Inspector Mario Pratt and Sergeant Steve Waugh before the west Kingston commission of enquiry stand in contrast to the accounts of several Tivoli Gardens residents that a number of persons were shot and killed by police personnel inside their homes, then placed in a police truck that was collecting bodies throughout the community.

One woman testified that she saw a man assisting the police to place the bodies of two brothers, Fernando and Fabian Grant, in a police truck that already had several bodies inside before he, too, was killed.

Pratt and Waugh acknowledged that they were each tasked with driving trucks that were used to collect bodies, but insisted that none of the bodies they retrieved were found inside dwellings or that civilians assisted in placing any body inside their vehicles.

"I did not take any bodies from any yards and I did not see anyone take any bodies from any yards. Most of the bodies were in the pathways," Pratt said in response to questions from commission counsel Symone Mayhew.

"We have had testimony in the commission from several residents on Dee Cee Avenue where you would have been picking up bodies that on the morning of the 25th [of May], several young men were shot by police officers and that, soon after, they were placed in a police truck ... . Did you see any of that?" Mayhew pressed.

"No, ma'am, I saw nothing like that," Pratt replied, indicating that the 13 bodies collected by his vehicle were retrieved from various sections of Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town.

Waugh, whose truck collected a total of 12 bodies, indicated that most of them were found near sand bags and other blockades mounted throughout the community.

He also gave testimony that appears to contradict assertions made by Assistant Commissioner Donovan Graham, the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) ground commander for the operation.

Waugh testified that prior to the start of the operation on May 24, 2010, he was never informed that his duties would involve the removal of bodies and transport of injured persons to the Kingston Public Hospital.

However, Waugh said once the operation got under way, he was one of the designated drivers who transported police and military personnel and the bodies of at least 12 persons that were collected throughout the west Kingston community.

"And to be clear, an armoured ambulance was never a part of your contingent?" asked attorney-at-law Gillian Burgess, who is representing the Office of the Public Defender.

"No, ma'am," he replied.

Seeking to explain the JCF's removal of injured and deceased persons from the area of operation, Assistant Commissioner Donovan Graham testified earlier this year that there were teams with two units from the Mobile Reserve that were given this task and these teams were headed by Waugh.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com