Too Many Still Dying at the hands of the Police
Thursday, 07 June 2012, Kingston, Jamaica – On May 3rd, 2012 Neavardo Shawn Thomas walked out of his house to go and lock up his truck which was parked just outside the gate. The next thing the family heard was a barrage of gunfire and when they were able to look they saw Neavardo dead face down on the side of the road. The Constabulary Communications Network reported that Neavardo was shot by police. The Post Mortem report states that Neavardo died from the effects of 5 gunshots, all of them to the back of his body or limbs. Since that time the family has reported intimidatory police actions to INDECOM and Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ).
On Saturday June 2, 2012 another young man, Kavorn Shue, was killed by police. The police allege a shoot-out. The community say he was shot in cold blood in his bed. Another family is grieving and another case of fatal shooting by police will need to be investigated and some determination of the truth made. Neither of the young men killed by the police had any allegations of wrong doing against them and both were hard working, committed and promising citizens. While the significant drop in the total number of police fatal shootings since March is a very good thing, far too many of our citizens die at the hands of the police in circumstances that may lead one to suspect that the use of force by the police was unjustified.
Justice Sykes said in a recent judgment “As part of the international community of civilized nations, Jamaica is obliged to have a fair, impartial, independent and rigorous system of investigation whenever an allegation of impropriety alleged is against the Security Forces”. A number of steps are underway to try and end impunity for the unlawful use of deadly force by members of the JCF. For these to be successful will require that all responsible state agencies, including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the various branches of the courts, treat the determination and conclusion of these cases with the urgency and commitment that they deserve.
In the interim all Jamaicans must demand lawful law enforcement from our police. All Jamaicans must ensure that the police high command demand accountability from the ground commanders in the JCF for the use of deadly force by their men. All Jamaicans must insist that the Minister of National Security hold the Police Commissioner to account for every instance of the use of lethal force by the men under his command (he must ensure that the use of such force is justified). Only when this is manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done will the JCF begin to regain the trust of the citizens and start the process of effective crime control.
JFJ will be joining the vigil and march for accountability in the death of Kavorn Shue that will take place on June 8, 2012 at 6.00 pm, starting at the Mountain View Police Station. Also joining the vigil will be members of Neavardo Thomas’ family and other family members from other police shootings.
We urge Jamaica to join us there and add your voice to the call for Justice. At this significant juncture in our history all well thinking Jamaicans must take a stand, as our forefathers did, to end any form of injustice.