THE eight policemen allegedly involved in a death squad in Clarendon are being investigated for unlawfully killing 40 civilians, it was revealed in court yesterday, where four of the accused were denied bail.
Senior Corporate Area Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey, in explaining why she would not be giving the four accused men bail, cited the figure from Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) documents submitted to the court.
“I am mindful that INDECOM said they are investigating some 40 cases that these men are linked to. These assertions must not be taken lightly,” RM Pusey said.
The magistrate said further that there was evidence that witnesses were “afraid or reluctant” to come forward, and that “the possibility of interference [with witnesses] is massive”.
The magistrate, after denying bail for the four Clarendon-based policemen — Sergeant Leeford Gordon and constables Romaine De La Haye, Damon Robinson and Pete Samuels — set a June 23 date for preliminary enquiry into the killings.
The magistrate’s decision left the accused cops’ colleagues and family members in tears as they left the courtroom in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
Following the proceedings, attorney Peter Champagnie, who appears for Samuels, told the Jamaica Observer that his client would be appealing Pusey’s decision.
“Samuels is a fit and proper person for bail,” Champagnie said. The attorney said he would be filing the appeal as soon as he gets the magistrate’s written reasons for the denial of bail.
Gordon, De La Haye and Robinson are charged with the murder of Marvin Shand on the night of January 4 at New Longville Park in Clarendon, while Samuels is charged with the May 25, 2011 killing of Sylvester Gallimore. Another police officer, suspected in the killing of Gallimore, has fled the island, the court was told yesterday.
It’s alleged that Gordon, De La Haye and Robinson ambushed and shot Shand, who was carrying bags of ground provisions and other items on his head and in his hands.
Allegations are also that a photograph of the dead man’s body was found in De La Haye’s cellular phone, which supported reports that Shand was travelling with loaded bags and had no weapon.
Yesterday, the defence said that a gun had been recovered from Shand and that the witness, Shand’s girlfriend, was in no position to tell if Shand had a gun in his hand when he was shot.
The other four policemen, who are being investigated along with yesterday’s four for the extra-judicial killings of 40 civilians are Constable Collis ‘Chuckie’ Brown, who is facing four counts of murder, conspiracy to murder and wounding with intent; Detective Corporal Kevin Adams, who is charged with four counts of murder; and constables Carl Bucknor and Jerome Whyte, who are both charged with one count of murder. They are to also appear before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court on June 23 for the preliminary enquiry.
According to INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams, these fatal shootings were initially reported as civilian-on-civilian attacks, but investigations later allegedly uncovered that the killings were done by the police.
In court yesterday, Gordon was represented by Queen’s Counsel K Churchill Neita, Dwight Reece appeared for De La Haye and AA Hinds represented Robinson.
The attorneys made impassioned applications on behalf of their clients but were opposed by Williams.