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Cops charged in death at training school

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Three policemen were taken before the Spanish Town Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday to face charges in relation to the fatal shooting of Constable Ricardo McKenzie at the Jamaica Police Academy during a training exercise almost a year ago.

Charged are Constable Bruce Martin and Sergeants Craig Vassell and Christopher Mattis, who are to return to court on March 18.

Martin was slapped with seven charges, including manslaughter in relation to McKenzie's death, and five counts of unlawful wounding in respect of five other police personnel injured during the training exercise. He was also charged jointly with Mattis for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Vassell was charged with manslaughter in relation to the death of McKenzie.

All three policemen were granted bail in the sum of $400,000 each with surety.

Prosecutors in the case said the M16 rifle involved in the incident was tampered with.

The court was told that the firing mechanism of the gun was removed and replaced with another that had not been issued on the day of the incident.

The revelation was made during the appearance of the policemen in court yesterday.

On January 30 last year, McKenzie was among a group of police personnel involved in a night-firing exercise. Blanks should have been issued for the exercise, but instead, live ammunition was used, resulting in the death and injuries.

An investigation was launched by the Independent Commission of Investigations, which resulted in the arrest and charge of the accused.

- Rasbert Turner