Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
TWENTY-YEAR-OLD POLICE Constable Ricardo McKenzie, who was shot and killed at the Jamaica Police Academy, Twickenham Park, St Catherine, last month, was laid to rest at the Denbigh Cemetery on Saturday, even as the controversy surrounding his tragic death still lingers.
Host pastor at the Power of Faith Deliverance Ministries in May Pen, Clarendon, Bishop P. Wilson, said up to Friday night McKenzie's family and friends were still searching for answers as to how the young cop died while at a training exercise at the academy.
"We are still searching for answers, as to how a young man, so full of promises and potential, could have died in such tragic and controversial circumstances. It was just last night, I was with the family and Ricardo's mother, Sister Sophia Palmer, was saying to me, 'Pastor, I need some answers on how my son died'," Bishop Wilson said as he delivered the sermon at McKenzie's thanksgiving ceremony.
He described McKenzie as a hard-working, dedicated and goal-oriented young man, who took up the mantle when his father passed away some 11 years ago. With an ambition to become an engineer, McKenzie opted for law enforcement, which required less studying time, to relieve his mother of some of the economic hardship.
'McKenzie a hero'
Deputy Superintendent of Police Dean Johnson, McKenzie's immediate commander at Mobile Reserve, said officer 15345 (McKenzie) was a hero who died serving his country.
"Law enforcement has lost a hero, the McKenzie's family and friends have lost a hero, this young man died serving his country, therefore his death is a crushing loss to all of us," said Johnson.
"McKenzie is from a home where there wasn't a lot of material things, but a lot of love. It was said that on the weekend of his death, his plan was to cook dinner for his mother, Sophia Palmer, but we all know what happened instead," he added.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds who deputised for Owen Ellington, commissioner of police, also paid tribute to McKenzie.
"The tragic passing of Constable McKenzie has left a void not only within his immediate family, but also within the entire police family. We will remember and value the contribution of this young and energetic team player, who demonstrated the capacity to put service above self and was a model of discipline, dedication and integrity," said DCP Hinds.
He told The Gleaner that investigations into McKenzie's death were at an advanced stage, adding that a statement would be made soon.
McKenzie, who joined the police force some eight months ago, was killed while participating in a tactical training exercise at the police academy last month. Five other persons were injured in the incident.