Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Portland residents peeved over police pepper spray incident

Published:Saturday | May 15, 2021 | 12:14 AMGareth Davis Sr /Gleaner Writer

Port Antonio (Portland):

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) says it has not yet seen a video now circulating on social media showing a physical confrontation between the police and a resident in Portland on Thursday.

The incident, which was captured on camera, occurred in the Prospect community, and is making the rounds on social media. It has ignited strong debate particularly in relation to 67-year-old Levi Thompson, who was captured on video being allegedly pepper sprayed and dragged from his vehicle by the police.

Thompson was taken to the Port Antonio Hospital by residents for treatment.

But according to a family member, the senior citizen was badly shaken up over the incident, which has not only left him with blurred vision but also a headache.

Denyelle Anderson, senior communications officer at INDECOM, said that she was unaware of the incident and that she had not seen the video footage of the alleged abuse of Thompson.

“We have not been contacted by any of the parties about any such incident and I have not seen any video footage as it relates to that incident, “she said.

“I am just learning about this, but there is a channel for persons to reach us and to voice their complaints. So I really cannot offer any comment at this time,” she added.

Meantime, head of the JCF’s Corporate Communications Unit, Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, told The Gleaner on Friday that she was unable to comment on the incident as she had not yet seen the video.

An alleged eyewitness Richard Burke told The Gleaner that he was shocked and disturbed at the actions of the police who, according to him, were not only unprofessional but were rather brutal and heartless in their approach.

“The police are supposed to serve, protect and reassure but instead they are physically abusing law-abiding citizens including the elderly,” Burke argued.

“Dem drag the big man from his vehicle and one police officer disconnected his car battery in a clear show of brute force. And dis female officer, after roughing up the elder (old man), slapped a young man, who was using his phone to record the incident. As a result of being slapped, the young man retaliated and there was a physical confrontation with him and at least four police officers,” he said.

Since the ugly incident showed up on social media, there have been mixed reactions from residents who claimed that the police involved in the altercation were not from the Portland Police Division, but were reportedly on special operations with a team from the Transport Authority of Jamaica.

“Fi wi police dem inna Portland naah behave so wid we, so how come imported police fi a bad wi up,” said Gary Grant, a fisherman at Prospect.

Another resident, Karen Swaby, argued that had Thompson exited his vehicle when he was told to do so, the situation might have been different.

“It is unfortunate, but the law is the law,” commented Swaby.