Adrian Frater, News Editor
Firefighters in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, set aside their hoses, axes and other firefighting equipment yesterday and took to the streets to protest last Friday's shooting death of one of their colleagues by the police.
Twenty-eight-year-old firefighter Andrew Brydson, his brother Triston Brydson and their cousin Kingsley Green were killed in a controversial police operation, which has left the community of Shrewsbury, near Petersfield, stunned and in mourning
Since the incident, described as a cold-blooded slaughter by the residents, there have been major demonstrations in Petersfield, Savanna-la-Mar, Darliston, Negril, and even as a far away as in the neighbouring parish of St Elizabeth, where some of the relatives of the deceased men reside.
While the police are still contending that the men were killed in a confrontation in which they seized two firearms - one rifle and a pistol - the residents are adamant that the men were unarmed and were victims of trigger-happy police personnel who failed to investigate before unleashing deadly force.
Since the series of protest started, two policemen, who are believed to have participated in the shooting incident, have been removed from front-line duty. Their removal was yesterday confirmed by Superintendent Carol McKenzie, the commanding offer for the Westmoreland Police Division.
Back in Shrewsbury district, Pastor Vincent Coke, who leads the Shrewsbury Church of God, where the men were members, said he has been comforting church members full-time as the congregation is badly shaken up by the incident.
"These were God-fearing men, who were not involved in any criminal activities," said Coke. "There was no shoot-out … it was an unprovoked attack by the police and we will not accept their version of what happened because that is not the truth."
The Independent Commission of Investigations, which only became aware of the incident by chance, long after the bodies were removed in an open-back police vehicle, has commenced its own investigations.