Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Ski Mask gangsters died in firestorm - Police, soldiers account for 99 of 105 spent shells found at death scene

Published:Sunday | March 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Terrence Williams (left), commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations, and assistant commissioner Hamish Campbell addressing members of the media last Monday.

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is yet to determine if there was any wrongdoing on the part of members of the security forces involved in the fatal shooting of six alleged members of the Ski Mask gang in St James on January 14.

Commissioner of INDECOM Terrence Williams last week disclosed that his investigators found 105 shell casings at the shooting scene in the area known as Goodwill, with 99 of these spent shells coming from the weapons of members of the security forces.

Four illegal guns were allegedly seized by the police after what was reported as a shoot-out, which also left one policeman reportedly nursing gunshot wounds.

"When we update or look at cases we don't reach any conclusions. It would be wrong for us to say that anything looks inappropriate at this point," said Williams, when quizzed whether the security forces may have used excessive force during the incident.

"Forensic analyses have been done of the vehicles and we are awaiting the final report from ballistics. But as we mentioned, the post-mortems of those six men have not yet been conducted," added Hamish Campbell, assistant commissioner of INDECOM.

According to Campbell, the post-mortem examinations have not even started, and it takes at least two months for these to be done in cases of fatal shootings by members of the security forces, and a further five or six months for the reports to be prepared and sent to his organisation.


Delaying investigation


Campbell argued that this is slowing down several investigations being conducted by INDECOM.

"It (post-mortem) is an integral part of understanding how the men were shot and where they were shot in comparison to the ballistic analyses of the vehicles," noted Campbell.

The police had reported that during an intelligence-driven operation, members of the security forces signalled the driver of a Toyota motor car to stop. According to the cops, the occupants exited the vehicle and stared firing wildly.

The fire was returned and when it ended, the six men, including the alleged leader of the gang, Oswyn 'Ski Mask' Jarrett, were found with gunshot wounds. They were pronounced dead at hospital.

The gang was said to be responsible for several murders and other crimes in Barrett Town, Lilliput and 'Africa' in St James.

Since the start of the year, at least 33 persons have been shot and killed by the security forces in Jamaica, with January ending on 19; the highest number of fatal shootings since January 2014. But despite the spike since the start of this year, INDECOM has reported a 38 per cent decline in the number of suspicious shootings by the police last year when compared to 2015.

According to INDECOM, this could indicate an improvement in the conduct of members of the security forces.