Sun | Jan 29, 2023

14 COPS ON KILLER RADAR

Police flagged in 112 shooting deaths over 11 years – INDECOM

Published:Thursday | December 8, 2022 | 1:39 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
The Independent Commission of Investigations has expressed concern about fatal shootings among a subgroup of 14 policemen.
The Independent Commission of Investigations has expressed concern about fatal shootings among a subgroup of 14 policemen.

Fourteen policemen are under scrutiny for their involvement in 30 of 129 fatal shootings over the one-year period ending June 2021. But more starkly, the same 14 have been flagged in 112 police-involved deaths between 2010 and June 30, 2021,...

Fourteen policemen are under scrutiny for their involvement in 30 of 129 fatal shootings over the one-year period ending June 2021.

But more starkly, the same 14 have been flagged in 112 police-involved deaths between 2010 and June 30, 2021, according to records of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM). One of the cops has reportedly killed 20 persons in 11 years.

The revelation was made in INDECOM’s 2022 quarterly report which was tabled in Parliament Tuesday.

The police oversight body said that fatal shootings by the security forces remain at a critically high level in Jamaica.

Highlighting key points in its report, INDECOM said that the 129 deaths occurred in 110 incidents between July 1, 2020 and June 2021. All persons shot and killed during that review period were men.

Sixty-four of the 110 incidents (58 per cent) occurred in Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine.

Giving a further breakdown, the oversight body said that 250 police officers fired their weapons in the flagged encounters.

A minimum of 1,950 rounds were fired at the 129 persons killed, INDECOM reported.

Data from INDECOM also showed that a minimum of 1,374 rounds were fired in incidents categorised as ‘discharge of firearm – missed target’.

The watchdog said that 19 of the 110 incidents were categorised as suspicious.

Further, INDECOM reported that 19 of the 129 men shot and killed had no gun or other weapon, with at least 308 rounds fired at them.

In 74 of the 110 incidents, 89 firearms were recovered.

The police oversight body reported that 17 of the 129 men were reported as being in possession of a weapon other than a firearm.

INDECOM also observed that no body-worn camera was cited as deployed in any of the 110 incidents.

In a retrospective look at killings by the security forces, INDECOM said that for the nine years preceding 2014, the number of security force-related deaths was always in excess of 200 annually.

INDECOM argued that while there was an observable and significant decline in the period 2014 to 2016, there was an increase in 2017 and 2018, and a subsequently significant drop in 2019 to below 100 deaths. However, after 2019, there has been a gradual year-on-year increase in fatal shootings.

The police oversight body said it is often cited that the volume of fatal shootings is a police response to violent crime and for which robust action is necessary against the perpetrators.

The commission pointed out that despite 3,105 security force-related fatal shootings from 2005 to 2021, the civilian homicide rate continues to increase.

INDECOM acknowledged that any armed and dangerous criminal and gunman must be lawfully confronted by the police in defence of self or others.

However, INDECOM argued that a narrower annual analysis demonstrates that the security force narrative of proportionality and necessity was not wholly accurate.

It contended that in cases involving unarmed persons; those without a firearm; the mentally ill; cross-fire victims; females; persons shot in fleeing vehicles; unarmed escaping suspects; CCTV evidence, and survivors of police-involved shootings continue to provide alternative accounts.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com