Tue | Jul 23, 2019

Women demand justice for slain men – and to shield others from death

Published:Sunday | March 17, 2019 | 12:28 AMCarlene Davis - Gleaner Writer

Sandra Linton still mourns the loss of her only son, Renardo Wilson, just days before his 20th birthday in the community of Grants Pen, St Andrew, in 2010.

Her lament has been rendered more painful because the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the organisation that probes allegations of police abuses and shootings, only completed a report into Wilson’s death last year. An inquest at the Special Coroner’s Court is yet to begin.

“As a citizen and a parent of Jamaica, honestly, I am really angry. For somebody, whether my child or whoever child, it is murder from 2010 and investigations just taking place,” Linton wailed.

“It’s like a disgrace to Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), but because they are the one that commit the murder, this is why I feel they stretch it out, and it is so lengthy for justice, so I am just praying, and I just hand it over to God,” she added.

Linton is one of scores of Jamaicans who have accused the JCF of excessive use of force – often carrying the ultimate penalty of death. There were 138 police fatal shootings in 2018, some of which are still under investigation for inappropriate or criminal conduct.

‘THEY DON’T WANT US TO HAVE A VOICE’

“They behave as if they don’t want us to have a voice. It’s as if we shouldn’t say anything about what happens to our loved ones, and it is so upsetting,” Linton told The Sunday Gleaner on the eve of International Day against Police Brutality, which was commemorated on Friday, March 15.

Another woman waiting for justice is Rosalee Reid, who lost her brother, Odein Reid, in 2010. She said that her brother was killed by police in Clarendon in a case of mistaken identity.

“An incident had happened the Friday. The person that they were looking for, he was in the community. They looked exactly alike. Only thing, one is thicker than the other, and the person they were looking for, he had tattoos; my brother don’t.

“His hand was up, and they asked him his name, [and] as he was going to answer, he was shot. After they shoot him, they went over him and when they lift his shirt to look for the tattoo, there was no tattoo. It was then they realised they had shot the wrong person,” Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.

She said she has written a number of letters to INDECOM to further investigate the matter.

“Days when I feel overwhelmed, I go to his graveside and I sit and I would talk to him, and then I would say to myself, ‘I’m broken, I am not destroyed,’ rather than saying I am waiting in vain, I say, ‘I am on a journey for justice,’” said Reid.

“Even if I don’t get justice, I want a change in the justice system. The reason why I keep doing this is because I have a smaller brother, so in case a police should pull up on him, he (police) would think twice and remember say there’s a Rosalee. There are other persons like us who are still fighting for justice.”

On Friday, human-rights lobby Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) provided psychosocial and legal support to a network of family members mourning police-shooting victims and met with more than 10 family members as they shared accounts of state brutality.

“Heartened by the recent trial of members of the so-called police death squad and the conviction of Constable Collis Brown for three counts of murder, wounding with intent, and conspiracy to commit murder, members of this support network of families are calling on the Government to ensure that police are held accountable for extrajudicial killings and that the cases of these members of the security forces are transparent and undertaken with minimal delays,” said attorney-at-law and policy and advocacy manager at JFJ, Monique Long.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com