On Friday a murder suspect from St. Ann was killed by the Jamaican police. The Constabulary Communication Network issued a press release stating the man, Ian “Ching Sing” Lloyd, was shot after attacking officers. So far, routine news–something you read of in the papers every other day here.
In this case, though, the shooting happened in front of a crowd of onlookers, among whom was a citizen who captured it all on a cellphone video. Shortly after the CCN’s release was published in the press, prime time evening news broadcast the chilling video which clearly contradicted the CCN’s boilerplate statement. It shows the man on the ground, knocked repeatedly by police batons like he were an animal. Once or twice, he feably tosses what looks like a rock toward an officer. Finally, a plainclothes officer walks around him with his pistol at his side, points it at the man’s chest, aims, and fires.
Not only was the amateur recording, and prime time broadcast of it, pioneering here, but so too was the JCF’s response. Police Chief Owen Ellington immediately ordered the arrest of the involved officers and placed a stop order on them at all ports of exit. Three officers allegedly involved were arrested the following day.
Officers associations, politicians, pastors, and human rights leaders quickly condemned the brutality of the killing. But as Jamaicans for Justice director Carolyn Gomes pointed out, “this has been happening for a long time…we have in our files, cases in which police beat, abuse, shoot and then lie at will.”
It is yet to be seen what will happen to the officers following their arrest, but if this motivates more citizens to use technology to record abuses by the state, it has the potential of bringing about great change in the pattern of dishonesty and impunity on the part of the security forces.