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Public Defender finds statements made by INDECOM deputy commissioner as troubling

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 7:13 PM
Arlene Harrison Henry, Jamaica’s public defender.

Public defender Arlene Harrison Henry has rebutted a statement made earlier this week by the deputy commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Hamish Campbell, that the police did their best in trying to restrain a woman, who was seen in a video resisting attempts to have her arrested.

Harrison Henry described the cell-phone footage as problematic.

In a written statement issued yesterday, Harrison Henry said, "The public defender finds the video footage of an unarmed female citizen troubling. What is equally troubling is that INDECOM, with oversight responsibility for investigations being conducted by the inspectorate of police, seems to have already arrived at conclusions though the investigations are incomplete."

Harrison Henry is concerned that the statements could impact the outcome of the case.

She believes that from the utterances made by INDECOM's deputy commissioner, it appears that they have turned findings into facts, suggesting that conclusions have been drawn and decisions arrived at prior to the completion of investigations.

EXCESSIVE FORCE

Another issue raised was that alternative methods could have been utilised to de-escalate the situation.

"OPD (Office of the Public Defender) disapproves the action of the police as portrayed in the video footage. The video shows an excessive use of force. Alternative action could have been taken and the police had a duty to de-escalate and defuse the situation," she explained.

The public defender has also recommended that citizens use their mobile phones and other devices to capture interactions with the police which, she said, could only benefit all parties concerned.

Campbell said of the woman's arrest that there was more balance to the situation than what persons were reporting when they said that the police had mishandled her.

"The police did not draw their weapons, they didn't threaten to shoot her, they didn't strike her with a baton and they did not punch her. The officers were engaged in trying to force her into the vehicle once they had made the decision to arrest her, and so you are left with this shoving and pushing," he said.

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