Sat | Feb 22, 2020

Cops deny ‘robot’ taxi driver killed in cold blood

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:28 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Assistant Superintendent Noel Daley listens yesterday to taxi operators who protested the police killing of a colleague in downtown Kingston on Monday. The demonstration took place along Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of the Denham Town Police Station.
Assistant Superintendent Noel Daley listens yesterday to taxi operators who protested the police killing of a colleague in downtown Kingston on Monday. The demonstration took place along Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of the Denham Town Police Station.

Approximately 100 licensed and unregistered taxi operators thronged the sidewalks of Spanish Town Road near the Denham Town Police Station yesterday morning to protest what they called the cold-blooded killing of a colleague, but lawmen claim that the driver tried to run over the cop.

The deceased is 25-year-old Shawayne Armstrong of Gibraltar district in Bog Walk, St Catherine.

Armstrong was shot and killed on Monday after a policeman fired one round, allegedly through the windshield of his Toyota Probox motor car.

“Dem a tek set on the taxi man dem and a this it come to. After dem kill di man, gunman kill man under dem nose, but a taxi man dem have strength for,” one of the protesters shouted.

Persons on the scene of yesterday’s demonstration theorised that the police killing was spawned by vengeful rage over last week’s mowing down of a traffic cop by a taxi operator in New Kingston. The policeman underwent surgery after the motor car ran over his leg.

Angry protesters yesterday denied claims that there was a scuffle between Armstrong and the policeman before a shot was discharged.

SHAKEN BY THE LOSS

“Is just a trigger-happy policeman. There was no fight. The man dead around his steering,” said another protester who requested anonymity because he feared being targeted by the police.

Ivel Sewell, aunt of the deceased, said that the family had been shaken by the loss.

“Shawayne is jovial and hardworking, very dependable. As you take up the phone and call him, he would be there,” Sewell told The Gleaner.

“He is running taxi for about eight years and earning his money. Everybody love him; always smiling, and easy to get along with. I can’t even concentrate cause nothing what they said or what come out of it can bring back Shawayne.”

Head of the Kingston Western Police Division, Leighton Grey, told our news team that the fatal shooting was under investigation.

POLICE ACCOUNT

Grey said that the driver had been illegally soliciting passengers from his ‘robot’ taxi.

“We realised that he disobeyed what was taking place in terms of the instruction given and grabbed the papers from the police ... and actually hit down a policeman. Being on the bonnet in fear of his life, he actually fired one round, which caught him in his chest and he was rushed to hospital,” the superintendent said.

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Assistant Commissioner Hamish Campbell confirmed that a probe has been launched into the incident.

When asked if the policeman at the centre of the altercation had been removed from front-line duty, Campbell said he could only speak to Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) policy.

“I do know the JCF policy is that certainly following a shooting, there are 10 days, up to a fortnight, that officers are removed from front-line duty … ,” he told The Gleaner.

Campbell said that investigators returned to the area on Tuesday and spoke with residents and other concerned persons.

At least one eyewitness has given an account to INDECOM.

Campbell told The Gleaner that investigators would also be examining whether CCTV technology might be included in their probe.

The Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau have also commenced investigations into the fatal shooting.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com