Fighting physical and emotional scars - Man injured in 2010 West Kingston incursion accuses Office of the Public Defender of misleading him
Still suffering from a gunshot wound he said he is sure came from a shot fired by a member of the security forces during the 2010 manhunt for West Kingston strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, George Harriott has expressed, 10 years later, that he may have been misled by the Office of the Public Defender to give evidence in the hope that he would have been properly compensated.
He has called for Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ intervention into the matter.
Added to the gunshot wound he received through his right elbow, he cited damage to his house at 76 North Street in Denham Town, which he claimed was shot up by members of the security forces, who were firing from a high-rise building.
In defending her office, Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry told The Gleaner that Harriott could not have been tricked, based on page 182 of the official report put together.
Reading from the report, she said that on May 25, 2010 at about 6:40 a.m., Harriott came out of his house to urinate in a drain downstairs when he was hit. As a result of being shot, he spent 20 days in hospital and then a further four days for further surgery to his arm. He also cited damage to the roof of his house, for which Harrison-Henry said he received $60,000.
“He said there was a hole in the roof through which water came, and he put his losses at $300,000 and he received $60,000 by way of compensation, and he said that is not his loss. Under cross-examination, Mr Harriott stated that it was a ricochet bullet that tore the roof, and at no time did anybody from the Office of the Public Defender tell Mr Harriott, or anybody else, that once they came and gave evidence, they would get money. Absolutely not! We encouraged people to come forward to give evidence to make out their case to the three commissioners who were appointed by the governor general,” Harrison-Henry pointed out.
She said that it would be difficult for Harriott to gain any further audience, as the inquiry’s findings stand, unless he provides further evidence, and if produced, could come under questioning as to why it was never presented before.
Despite this, Harriott remains hopeful that Holness can help his case. He related a story to The Gleaner of excruciating pain 10 years on.
Harriott shared that a part of his hip was taken out to patch his elbow. Beneath the scars, he walks around with 15 screws inside the arm, which has been deformed due to the incident. He shared that on top of the daily pain he endures and the expensive medication, he has to struggle to change gears inside his vehicle as he drives across the island doing delivery jobs.
“Doctor seh the heaviest thing mi must lift up is a tin a milk, and if you ever see wah mi affi a lift up just fi survive, you would be surprised.
“They took me to the inquiry. When the compensation packages were ready in 2018, I called a Mr Hemmings from the Office of the Public Defender and he told me that I have nothing to worry about. I asked him if I should get a lawyer and he said no, they will be my lawyers.”
But when he took the card bearing his tax registration number along with his ID, thinking he would receive the funds for the damage altogether, he was disappointed when told, “Nothing there for you”.
“Arlene Harrison-Henry, who became Public Defender by then, said the case was closed and that none of us were to come to her office pertaining to the incursion, nor to the justice ministry. Last year mi pay a lawyer $20,000, plus I paid $4,000 for the medical certificate. The lawyer told me they can’t do anything. I want the prime minister or anybody who can assist me because I was tricked by them.”
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck also indicated that the case was closed and that he was not anticipating further review processes arising from complaints that surface now.
“Absolutely (too late). This thing finished how long ago. Everything was distributed.”