Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Shooting victim deserves every red cent

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Approximately five years ago while I performed duties at the Office of the Public Defender, former Prime Minister Edward Seaga introduced me to a young lady, Latoya Brown, who was shot and injured in 2001 by a bullet believed to be fired by the security forces.

Mr Seaga explained that the bullet was discharged during the security forces' operation in Tivoli Gardens that resulted in 27 lives being lost. Latoya lost sight in both eyes as a result of the injury. She was 19 at the time of the incident.

I began the process of seeking compensation for Latoya by, among other things, taking her statement, obtaining her medical records and opening a file. Upon my leaving the Office of the Public Defender in 2011, Mr Seaga requested that I turn over the file to private attorneys Joan Parris Woodstock and Dorothy Lightbourne.

I was pleased last week when The Gleaner reported that 14 years after the incident, in 2015, Latoya had been awarded nearly $50 million in damages by Supreme Court judge Justice Evon Brown.

When I met her nearly five years ago, I was impressed by her humility. Latoya was clear she was wronged, but I found her refusal to be sorry for herself and determination to succeed admirable. She spoke of her dreams and aspirations that she'd achieve despite her fate.

In several cases such as these, often an adverse judgment is entered in relation to the State, but payment is unduly delayed for years.

There may be other judicial processes being contemplated, but I take this opportunity to urge the State: Let that not be Latoya's fate. Pay her in a timely manner. She's deserving of every cent.