THE mother of a policeman who was shot dead by a colleague wants his name cleared, as she is adamant that he is innocent of what he has been accused of.
Constable K’Mar Beckford, 25, was shot dead by a police inspector. Investigators were told that the off-duty Beckford had entered a bar in the seacoast town of Hopewell, Western Hanover, on the morning of April 4, and attempted to rob patrons at gunpoint.
The investigators were told that Beckford was shot dead in a firefight in which the inspector and a woman were injured.
Since the incident, which is being investigated by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, through the Inspectorate of the Constabulary, as well as the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), reports have surfaced that initial information regarding the unfolding of events may have been inaccurate.
High-ranking members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, who were reluctant to be identified because of the nature of the investigations, have told the Jamaica Observer that the initial report has been challenged, and eyewitnesses have been providing information that Beckford was not robbing the bar as was earlier reported.
An INDECOM official, contacted by the Sunday Observer late Friday, also said that there were discrepancies in the reports that have been received so far, but also opted against giving this newspaper any additional information, saying that the investigations were “at a very, very delicate stage, and some things do not seem right”.
The last part of that view is shared by Beckford’s mother Lenorah Thomas, a guidance counsellor and educator by profession.
“He was not a rogue cop,” Thomas insisted of her first born of three when the Sunday Observer spoke with her on Friday.
“You can just imagine what I was going through. If I were not a woman of God, I would be in Cornwall Regional Hospital now. There are too many question signs,” she said.
The post-mortem on her son’s body has been postponed three times already and is now set to be the last case for tomorrow. But Thomas is not even hopeful that it will be done, fuelling even further speculation that something is amiss, as cases involving the police and INDECOM do not usually take so long for port-mortems to be done, despite the backlog in the Government’s pathology division.
Thomas confirmed that her son did enter the bar with his two guns — one owned by him, the other belonging to the police force. But she maintained that he did not start the shooting and had absolutely no intention of robbing the place.
One source close to the scene said that the slain man had the private firearm upon entering the bar, but he did so in a boastful manner of announcing to those present that he had recently acquired the pistol.
“He lives in Springfield, St Elizabeth, over 50 miles away. Why would he travel from so far to rob a bar for two or three thousand dollars? My information is that he was directly called to the bar, or sent there,” she said.
“Never have I got this type of thing from my son. He was aspiring to become a psychologist and was preparing to do his last two CXC subjects this year. He reads a lot and borrows every kind of book — he was an intelligent young man,” Thomas said.
Reports reaching the Sunday Observer state that the crime scene may have been tampered with, as even a mask that earlier reports said the deceased man was wearing, was actually placed on his face by someone after he was shot and the premises sealed off.
“I want my son’s name to be cleared. I am not seeking revenge, neither am I asking for anyone’s head. The police commissioner needs to act. When my son graduated from police training school at age 19, he said something to me that I will always remember. He told me: ‘A policeman can be your good friend, but he can also be your worst enemy.’ How profound is that statement,” Thomas said.
St Elizabeth-born Beckford was on sick leave at the time of his death. The Sunday Observer was told that he took sick leave a day before he was killed and was due to return to work early the following week, as he wanted to prepare for the first birthday of his only child — a mere two days after his brutal end.
He took sick leave so that he could travel near and far to pick up relatives for the birthday party on Easter Monday, April 6, as he did not believe that he would have got the day off, had he applied for it, the Sunday Observer was told.
Now, the police force is in a dilemma as it probes the circumstances. If a policeman dies in the line of duty, his family is normally compensated with benefits that go hand in hand with the conditions of employment. However, if it can be proven that such a policeman met his demise by way of foul and illegal circumstances, his family has nothing to get from the State.
Plans are advanced for him to be buried in his hometown, Springfield, North West Elizabeth, on Saturday, May 2.