JFJ Press Release: JFJ Horrified by the Shooting of Two Women by Police

JFJ Horrified by the Shooting of Two Women by Police

Monday, September 3, 2012, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), like so many others in the country, is horrified by the media reports of the death of an eight months pregnant woman and the wounding of her sister at the hands of a policeman on the afternoon of September 1st, 2012 in St. Thomas.

It is incomprehensible that the use of expletives could have produced a situation where an officer sworn to uphold the law could pull his weapon and shoot two unarmed women, one of them fatally. Subsequently there have been threats posted against the life of the policeman and reportedly also against his family.

The reports raise a number of extremely troubling questions.  What kind of person could pull a firearm, point and fire at two unarmed women, one of them eight months pregnant?  What is the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s training as it relates to techniques for deescalating situations and use of non-lethal force?  What kind of supervision is provided by senior levels of the force to men under their command to ensure that this type of situation does not occur?  What kind of accountability is demanded by the police High Command in relation to the use of force in ALL situations?

We encourage all Jamaicans to use this incident as an opportunity to recommit to the rule of law and due process, and to take a step back from the culture of violence and vengeance.  The policeman involved in this incident is absolutely entitled to security of the person and due process, and any and all threats against him or his family must be condemned. It is essential, that even in a time of deep anger and distress, we must commit to a formal process of investigation and resolution of this matter in the courts.

We commend the quick actions of INDECOM to investigate the incident in response to a call to its Tip line.  They must conduct their enquiry in a thorough and professional manner, but with dispatch, so that the necessary accountability for the death of Kayann Lamont can be seen to take place.  We note the quick action of the police in taking the officer concerned into custody and ask that they ensure that he has access to the requisite legal support.  The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts of Jamaica must also treat this case with dispatch in an attempt to restore some confidence in the rule of law and the dispensation of justice.

We extend our deep condolences to the members of the family of Kayann Lamont and to the community from which she comes.

The way back from violence perpetrated by far too many ordinary citizens and those sworn to uphold the law, has to be repudiation of violence on all levels and a commitment to action that respects all our citizens.  We must all work toward a different day in Jamaica where we can resolve challenges and difficulties without resort to violence.