13 of those killed in Tivoli had criminal convictions, says senior cop
A high-ranking police officer has testified that 13 of the persons whose bodies were found in west Kingston following the May 2010 operation had criminal convictions.
That assertion by Superintendent Gladys Brown Ellis came yesterday as the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry heard testimony about some of the persons who were killed in the operation and the circumstances under which they died.
According to Brown Ellis, the convictions came to light after the Government Forensic Laboratory analysed fingerprints taken from all the bodies recovered after the operation.
"We understood that men would have been attacking the security forces, and we wanted to rule in or rule out some of those bodies that were under my care. So, we saw it fitting to have their hands dusted for gunpowder and their fingerprints taken, and also to establish whether they were wanted for any infractions," she testified, as she sought to explain the purpose of the fingerprinting.
"We sent it to the lab and the match came back to say they [13 of the deceased] had previous convictions ... and the CRO [Criminal Records Office] numbers would come back with their names and the infractions they were arrested and charged with, and what the court convicted them for," she added.
However, Brown Ellis could not say what offences they were convicted of.
Brown Ellis, who was part of a team that spent several days processing bodies found in west Kingston, said her tally indicates that 69 persons died in the operation, which was aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
The Office of the Public Defender (OPD), in its report to Parliament, asserted that 74 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) died in the operation.
Seeking to explain the difference, Brown Ellis said the OPD report included five persons who were killed in incidents unrelated to the May 2010 operations.
She testified that by day three of the operation her team counted 54 bodies at Madden's Funeral Parlour, 42 of which were processed for identifying features and possible cause of death, among other things.
Of the 12 remaining bodies, she said eight were sent to another funeral home because Madden's had run out of space, while four were sent to the May Pen Cemetery for on-the-spot post mortems.
During cross-examination by attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie, who is representing the JDF, Brown Ellis revealed that all but three of the 69 bodies were males and that a majority of them were clad in white top and dark-coloured pants.
"Some of these men were dressed in white top ... a T-shirt, white merino and dark bottom ... either black jeans or blue jeans, but the commonly noted top was mostly white," she insisted.
The commission has heard testimony from several witnesses, including members of the JDF, that this was the mode of dress for the armed thugs, who engaged members of the security forces in fierce fire fights during the operation.
Brown Ellis also testified that one of the bodies stood out to her because of several things she noticed. She said the body, which was later identified as that of Teneil Dennis, was clad in army uniform with a glove on his left hand.
"He was said to be a sniper, that's the information we got," Brown Ellis said.
The enquiry is scheduled to resume on November 23.