Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Tears and anger - Cop freed in killing of pregnant St Thomas woman

Published:Tuesday | April 4, 2017 | 4:00 AMLivern Barrett

Tears and anger permeated the main courtroom at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston yesterday after police Corporal Dwayne Smart was freed of murder in the 2012 shooting death of a pregnant woman in St Thomas.

Inside the prisoners' dock, Smart buried his face in the palms and wept uncontrollably after a seven-member jury acquitted him of murder and manslaughter in the killing of 25-year-old Kayann Lamont - who was eight months pregnant at the time - outside the Yallahs Police Station. The verdict was unanimous.

Smart was also found not guilty of wounding with intent in the shooting of Lamont's sister.

The tears continued even as his attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson, went to assist him from the prisoners' dock and the two shared a long embrace.

On the other side of the room, Lamont's sister, Shemean Lamont - who testified that she witnessed the shooting - appeared angry and confused.

"I don't understand how this man can shoot a pregnant lady and get away with everything," she told reporters.

"This is not right, this is not true. Right now I don't think I can explain this," she added before refusing to answer any more questions.

Smart did not speak to reporters after the verdict, but his lead attorney, Neita-Robertson, said he was very remorseful over Lamont's death and asked his colleagues to enquire about the well-being of her family.

According to Neita-Robertson, Smart believes if he had "managed it [the incident] differently, it would have been different.

"It should never have happened. That's his position ... and if other officers on the scene had come to his assistance, it never would have happened," Neita-Robertson reasoned.

Prosecutors Claudette Thompson and Tenecia Bibbons-Evans led evidence that Lamont was being taken into custody for using expletives when she was shot in the head by Smart. There was also evidence, during the four-week trial, that her sister was shot while rushing to her defence.

However, Smart, through his attorney, argued that the killing was an accident. He also contended that he was facing a hostile mob opposed to his decision to arrest Lamont. He said that during his attempt to arrest her, a scuffle ensued and they both fell to the ground. Smart said that he tripped and his firearm accidentally went off as he attempted to get back on his feet.

Neita-Robertson, who also cried after the verdict, described the case as "particularly difficult".

"We are speaking about the loss of a woman's life and an unborn child. Juxtapose that with an officer who the JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force] should be, and is very, proud of as a human being and an excellent officer," she said.

"It's a difficult balance to arrive at justice. It was tough, but I believed in him and the jurors were able to deliver what I consider a just verdict," added Neita-Robertson.

Meanwhile, attorney-at-law Dorothy Lightbourne, QC, has said that the family has filed a civil suit against the State for negligence.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com