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Was it murder or robbery? - Residents protest shooting death of man after bus incident

Published:Thursday | October 20, 2016 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Esmie Sinclair displays the clothing of Albert Roberts during a protest along a section of Spanish Town Road in Kingston yesterday.

Esmie Sinclair rummaged through her dead nephew's knapsack, yanking out items of clothing, empty juice bottles, and his muddy sneakers as reference that 27-year-old Albert Roberts was a hard worker.

Official police reports are that Roberts was shot dead on Wednesday by a bus driver after he and a friend attacked a conductor on Spanish Town Road in Kingston. The incident occurred at about 12:05 p.m.

Investigators said Roberts and the friend boarded the Kingston-bound Coaster bus at Plantation Heights and refused to pay their fares. Along the way, they were asked to exit the bus, but a female passenger offered to pay for the remainder of their journey.

What happened next remained a cause of contention yesterday.

Police say Roberts and his friend pulled a knife and ice pick and attacked the bus operators and that the driver pulled a licensed firearm and shot Roberts multiple times.




But residents who blocked a section of the busy Spanish Town Road using any debris they could find disputed the story. They said Roberts, a construction worker, was never armed.

"Him is no gunman. Him is no troublemaker. Him is no thief. Him don't even raise him voice loud. We never had any problem with him. See it there: is pure clothes in the bag," said Sinclair, a picture of confusion amid the protesters with placards hoisted as high as voices were loud.

"Is kill them kill off the yute. ... I can't believe them kill Al like that and run go tell police bout robbery. Is no robbery!" shouted Denise, another resident who openly lambasted policemen who had cleared the roadblock and were securing the area.

Karl Blake, councillor for the Greenwich Town division, turned up to show his support to the residents yesterday. He said Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller had made contact with Sinclair and had agreed to assist with burial arrangements for her nephew.

The Independent Commission of Investigations has launched a probe into the shooting.