Ex-cop murder trial | Soldiers were hesitant about giving statements, says cop
A senior policeman at the Hunts Bay Police Station testified in the Home Circuit Court yesterday that members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) waffled over statements and refused to turn over their weapons immediately after the 2007 killing of 18-year-old Ravin Thompson, a resident of Whitfield Town in St Andrew.
"'I did not fire'. 'I'm not sure if I fired'. 'I was in the first jeep'. 'I was not in the first jeep'. Stuff like that. That's why I told them to get their stories straight," said Detective Sergeant Allan Love, recounting a conversation between himself and members of the security forces at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) shortly after Thompson was brought there, lying on his back with gunshot wounds to the chest, in a JDF vehicle.
Love was in charge of crime at the Hunts Bay Police Station at the time of the teen's killing.
A JDF soldier earlier this week testified that cops placed an M16 rifle in the injured teen's hands before shooting him, and that the soldiers opted not to intervene for fear that it would lead to a shootout between them and the police.
"They did not explain why they were hesitant. However, when they actually started to speak, I realised that the stories were not consistent based upon the type of questions I was asking," said Love, noting that while he accepted that the soldiers may have been traumatised or nervous following the shooting, they declined to hand over their firearms for inspection.
"They said it was against their practice and that they were following orders. The soldiers had not indicated that they had fired but said that they were all issued 90 rounds," said the senior policeman, who testified that the defendant, former Constable Mark Russell, who is on trial for the decade-old murder, was not reported to have fired at Thompson.
The guns were later turned over for ballistic examination and the hands of the implicated policemen and soldiers swabbed for gunpowder residue. Love said an illegal firearm, alleged to have been found near the teen, was also turned over to him.
After the incident, Russell fled the island before the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled that he should be charged with murder. He was later extradited.
The trial continues today.