Tivoli Enquiry: First witness takes stand, clashes with police attorney under cross-examination
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
There were testy exchanges this afternoon as Jermaine McLeod, the first witness in the Tivoli Enquiry was cross-examined by Debra Martin, the attorney for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Martin was trying to establish that the police had taken several measures to have West Kingston residents dismantle barricades they had erected to prevent the police from entering Tivoli Gardens in search in then fugitive, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
But McLeod was evasive, accusing the attorney of wanting him to say things that he did not know about.
Earlier, McLeod, a former resident of Tivoli Gardens recounted what he characterised as the traumatic ordeal he experienced on May 24, 2010 when soldiers stormed the community in search of Coke.
McLeod showed scars that he said were caused by injuries inflicted on his hand which was placed under the wheels of an army truck.
McLeod recalled how, after attempting to make his way out of Tivoli Gardens
with an elderly, crippled woman, he was savagely beaten by soldiers before he was taken to the army base, Up Park Camp.
Under cross examination, he said he returned to Jamaica in 2008, so he had merely heard of Coke.
McLeod said while he only knew of Coke he was aware of the extradition order against Coke but did not know him.
Meanwhile, McLeod said before hell broke loose in Tivoli, other residents were moving out.
However, he said he stayed put.
"I did not have anywhere to go," said the young man who operated a game shop in the area while living with his stepfather and brother.
However, McLeod said as gunfire reverberated, he realised that it was time to leave Tivoli Gardens.
He said there was also heavy smoke, and a stream of dead bodies.
"The smoke was getting crazy," he said, adding that it was coming from houses near his.
McLeod said as he attempted to leave, he was stopped by soldiers.
"We saw soldiers and one of them called me to come down the lane and told me to put down the crippled lady by the name of Miss Cissy,” he told the Commission.
"I laid her on the ground then they started beating on me with a baton all over, my arms back and legs… I was getting hit all over," he said.
He said police and soldiers took him to another section of the community called Java, where there were many people in nearby yard."
"People appealed to the policeman to stop beating... but they didn't. He was beating me with a tree limb.”
“One police (not the one beating him, at this stage) took my phone,” said McLeod.
"Other people were standing there and they were taking everyone’s phone," he said.
Later, McLeod said they asked him if he knew Christopher 'Dudus' Coke and when he responded that he knew of him, he was accused of lying and more beatings followed as well as a threat to kill him.
He recalled that a soldier truck came and he and other men were loaded in.
"In the truck they put us to stand and used us as human shield. They drove us to (Up Park) Camp and the beatings continued," he said.
"A little assault, an elbow here and a kick there," he said. "I was being beaten. I held up my hand in defence and a soldier grabbed me by the wrist and I said 'you going to shoot me now?…' he put my hand under the truck and told the driver: 'Go slow'. My scars are there to show," said McLeod.
McLeod said he received cursory medical attention after he was taken to Up Park Camp and a few days later, he was taken to the National Arena.
"They held us there for a while."
He said on his release, he got a slip to go to Tivoli Gardens to show that he was clear.
But after leaving the National Arena, McLeod said he went to a hotel.
McLeod said he could not go to Tivoli Gardens as he had watched his house
located on Chang Avenue being burned.
He disclosed that he lost everything when he returned to examine his house but has received no compensation.
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