Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Gunman's bullets stop storybook album - Empty pages where a mother had planned to put pictures of her only child

Published:Sunday | April 30, 2017 | 4:00 AMRyon Jones
Regina Hanson has chronicled her only son’s every achievement in this album over the years, but now, many pages will be left empty after Leighton was murdered last Friday.
Overcome with grief, Spanisha Hanson (centre), wife of Constable Leighton Hanson, clutches her son, Alex, while head of the Constant Spring Police Superintendent Jacqueline Green gives a comforting word at the late cop’s Portmore, St Catherine, house yesterday.
Police Commissioner George Quallo tries to console Regina Hanson, whose only son, Constable Leighton Hanson, was murdered last Friday.
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Members of the police force spent yesterday in mourning as news spread that a second colleague had died from injuries he received at the hands of the marauding criminals loose in the society.

The cops were still coming to grips with the death of Constable Leighton Hanson, who was fatally shot on Constant Spring Road last Friday, when word came that Detective Sergeant Dale Thompson, who was assigned to the Kingston Central Division, had died from injuries he received at the hands of criminals on January 28.

To compound the pain of the cops, pictures of Hanson on the ground on Constant Spring Road were being circulated on social media, a move that was condemned by Police Commissioner George Quallo.

Yesterday, Regina Hanson sat on her veranda flipping through the pages of an incomplete album of images of her son, Leighton, who was killed while trying to arrest an accused robber.

The album chronicled Leighton's early years, with images of him graduating from Bridgeport High School to him acting at a Christian youth camp. But the album had space for more happy memories, which now, will never be captured.

Regina went through immense pain giving birth to her only child, who was born premature, weighing only four pounds and 10 ounces. But that pain was nothing compared to what she is feeling now that her 36-year-old 'baby' has been cut from her life forever.

"It was a difficult birth, and I had to spend six weeks in the hospital and do a C-section," Regina recounted. "He was so small they had to give him to me on a pillow to hold, but he grew up so fast."

According to Regina, giving birth to Leighton was the only moment of distress he caused her prior to last Friday when news reached her of his murder.

 

A PEOPLE PERSON

 

"He was always giving some joke. [He was] a people person who grew up learning to talk to persons no matter how bad the situation was," said Regina.

"If he was one of those aggressive police officers, maybe he would still be alive," added the grieving mother.

Regina said that prior to hearing of her son's passing, she was at the Half-Way Tree Transportation Centre and overheard a discussion about a policeman who had been disarmed and fatally shot by a man he was trying to arrest.

"Immediately, Leighton just came in front of me, and I said, 'Duh, Lord! Don't let it be him'," Regina told The Sunday Gleaner.

When she eventually got word that it was in fact her son, her reaction was one of denial.

She cried out: "No! Mi child can't die!" She continued: "And I started to cry. My pressure went up, and at around nine o'clock, I had to be rushed to the doctor and was put to sleep."

Leighton died leaving two sons, an eight-year-old and a two-year-old, and his wife of nine years and mother of his older child, Spanisha, is not sure how they are going to survive without him.

"When I heard, I said it couldn't be him. It must be a dream, and then I started to think about my son," Spanisha shared, and tears streamed down her cheeks. "He (son) was supposed to spend some time with him (Leighton ) this weekend, and to think he will never hear the voice of his father calling him again or him saying 'Daddy'. It's hard!"

Spanisha said that her son, who told our news team that he was looking forward to playing video games with his dad this weekend, woke yesterday morning, asking for Leighton and crying.

Leighton's father, Washington, has asked that his son's death be used as a lesson to the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the wider society.

 

BACK-UP OFFICER

 

"Everybody calling me asking me if is him (Leighton) alone who went, and I said, 'I don't think so.' But this is something for all of us to look into and learn from as once you have a partner, you must be there for each other," Washington said.

"Because if a policeman is handcuffing somebody, he must use his two hands, so he can't have the weapon in his hands. But you have another person, or persons, who are supposed to do the cover job. So if nobody was covering, then somebody was tardy somewhere along the line."

The question of where Leighton's colleague was during the mÍlÈe, which reportedly preceded him being shot, was posed to Superintendent Jacqueline Green, who is in charge of the Constant Spring Police Station, where Leighton was stationed for his entire nine years of service.

"I didn't get into that with him (other policeman) at the time because of his state of mind. Some other time, we will speak to that," Green, who, along with Commissioner George Quallo, visited with the family yesterday.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com