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Shot pregnant woman recovering in hospital

Published:Monday | January 25, 2016 | 5:06 PMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

Janice Hines, the 21-year-old pregnant St James woman who was shot and seriously injured when the police reportedly opened fire on the taxi in which she was travelling last Friday morning, is now in stable condition in hospital and is able to communicate with family members.

"She is coming on good, but the gunshot is near her liver, so they can't take it out," said Neville Hines, the injured woman's distraught father. "The medical people will be doing some tests on her to decide what to do next. We are just hoping and praying that she will be OK."

According to reports, shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Hines and other passengers were travelling in a taxi towards downtown Montego Bay when the driver of the car was signalled to stop by officials from the Transport Authority. They, along with a senior superintendent of police and a district constable, were conducting a spot check along the Westgate main road in the western city.

The driver reportedly disobeyed an order to stop and increased his speed as a police vehicle, with the two cops on board, gave chase. After careening in and out of traffic for several minutes, the taxi reportedly crashed into another vehicle and came to an abrupt stop.

According to reports, the two policemen alighted from their vehicle and shots were fired at the taxi. During the shooting, Hines was hit in the back. The driver and the other passengers, which include three children, escaped unhurt. Hines was rushed off to hospital, where she was admitted in serious condition.

The driver of the taxi, whose identity the police have refused to reveal, was subsequently arrested and charged. A police source told The Gleaner that the charges include dangerous driving and disobeying the police.

Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), which has since commenced investigation of the incident, has reportedly seized the firearms of both the senior superintendent and the district constable. They have also interviewed the other passengers. It is unclear as to whether or not they have spoken to the injured Hines.

While the injured woman's father, who is also a taxi operator, is delighted that she is now able to communicate and appears to be recovering, other family members and friends are worried about the status of her unborn child, especially on account of the medication that she is being given to ease her pain and aid her recovery.

Efforts to get the police's version of the incident proved futile, as none of the personnel contacted by The Gleaner was willing to speak on the record except to say the Bureau of Special Investigation and the Inspectorate of Constabulary have joined INDECOM in investigating the incident.