Sun | Aug 14, 2022

Man accused of killing family of five wants action taken for leaked video, attorney says

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2022 | 12:14 AM
Tamika Harris, the attorney representing Rushane Barnett, charged that although the medical doctor and JPs indicated that they were there to protect her client’s rights, they proceeded to ignore some of his fundamental rights.

The man accused of slashing the throats of a Clarendon mother and her four children has instructed his attorney to pursue disciplinary action against a medical doctor and the justices of the peace (JPs) present during a medical examination, after...

The man accused of slashing the throats of a Clarendon mother and her four children has instructed his attorney to pursue disciplinary action against a medical doctor and the justices of the peace (JPs) present during a medical examination, after footage of the video surfaced online.

The six-minute video, which was recorded inside the medical post at the Half-Way Tree Police Station in St Andrew, emerged on social media on Friday and quickly went viral, triggering a police investigation into the source of the leak.

Senior Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth confirmed that publication of the video is a breach of the police force's social media policy and is being investigated by the professional standards unit.

Nesbeth acknowledged, too, that the leaked video has other “legal implications”, including a possible violation of murder accused Rushane Barnett's right to privacy.

Tamika Harris, the attorney representing Barnett, charged that although the medical doctor and JPs indicated that they were there to protect her client's rights, they proceeded to ignore some of his fundamental rights.

Chief among them, she said, was the dignity he should have been accorded.

The attorney noted that the examination was conducted by a medical doctor and charged that “some patient-doctor confidentiality was not observed”.

“I do not see how a doctor is examining someone in the presence of the police and in the presence of so many justices of the peace and also it is being recorded,” she said during a Sunday Gleaner interview yesterday.

“What bothers me also is that the justices of the peace would have known that he has an attorney. I do not know why they believe that they are able to advocate for him … and they are not trained legal officers.”

The attorney said on the instructions of her client, she intends to write to the Medical Council of Jamaica, which regulates the medical profession, and the custos of St Andrew, who oversees JPs, to pursue disciplinary proceedings.

When contacted yesterday, Dr Andrei Cooke, a JP and medical doctor who identified himself in the video and led the examination, said he was not able to answer any questions.

'IT IS JUST WRONG'

But during an interview with this newspaper on Friday, Cooke said: “We perform a service, as justices of the peace; we try to ensure that, people, though incarcerated for the moment, their rights are balanced ... . Anybody is innocent until proven guilty.”

He explained that it was not unusual for some examinations to be recorded, but said, in this case, “for somebody to leak the documentation it is just wrong”.

Cooke said he checked with the other JPs who were present and they did not have the video.

SSP Nesbeth said up to yesterday he had not spoken to the JPs who were present during the medical examination and could “not say the intention of the people who captured it on video”.

It showed Barnett, 23, being questioned by a team of four JPs, including Cooke.

The examination was apparently triggered by complaints the murder accused made in the Home Circuit Court last Tuesday.

“A bare threaten dem a threaten me still, and a lick mi inna mi back and dem stuff deh,” he told a judge.

Cooke confirmed that the examination took place Friday and that a report has been sent to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the commissioner of police, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In a statement yesterday, INDECOM said none of its investigators were present during the examination.

The bodies of 31-year-old Kemesha Wright; Kimanda Smith, 15; Sharalee Smith, 12; Rafaella Smith, five; and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry Jr were found at their Clarendon home on June 21 with their throats slashed.

Barnett, who is a relative of the victims, has been charged with five counts of murder.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has already served notice that it will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com