Top Cop tells Commission…Linden shooting was unjustified
By Abena Rockcliffe
Acting Police Commissioner, Leroy Brumell, stated yesterday under oath that the shooting of the three Lindeners on July 18, last, was “unjustified”. He told the commission that Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Patrick Todd gave the order to shoot.
Brumell made the statement while giving testimony as the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the fatal shooting at Linden got underway in the High Court Library.
The commissioners are Jamaicans Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe and Senior Counsel Keith Knights; Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal of Trinidad and Tobago; and former Justice Claudette Singh, CCH and former Chancellor of the Judiciary Cecil Kennard from Guyana.
The Top Cop, who was the first witness called to present evidence, said that at no point did he give order or approve the use of lethal force. According to Brumell, he did not receive any order from Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee on how to deal with the Linden protest.
Brumell was at the time being questioned by Jamaican Senior Counsel Keith Knights who guided him through the series of events before and after the shooting that resulted in the deaths of three Linden residents and severe injuries to over two dozen others.
The Top Cop said that prior to the shootings he issued instructions to the then Commander of E&F Division, Clifton Hicken, to conduct talks with the protesters and locate the leaders in an attempt to have them disperse the thousands of protesters. It was then that the commissioner affirmed that the order to shoot did not come from him.
Brumell described Hicken as “a short man with a hot temper”. Shortly after the shooting, Hicken was transferred to Berbice. The officer was demoted to Deputy Commander.
Brumell said that he was dissatisfied with the way the rank handled the issue and he also received instructions from the Home Affairs Minister to remove Hicken from that location.
According to the Acting Commissioner, ASP Todd, who reportedly gave the order to shoot, was also removed from the division following reports “we got”.
Brumell told the hearing that he did not receive orders from the Minister on how to deal with the protest. The Top Cop indicated that half a unit of Tactical Services Unit (TSU) ranks, including a sergeant and a corporal, was sent to Linden to assist ranks there as the force received “intelligence” that the protest would have seen heavy disturbance.
Brumell told members of the commission that ranks on the scene were pelted with bottles and bricks and had reportedly heard explosions.
Commissioner Brumell is to continue his testimony today.
Three Lindeners, namely Allan Lewis, Ron Somerset and Shemroy Bouyea, were killed on July 18, when police opened fire on a crowd gathered on the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge as they staged protest against the government’s hike in electricity tariff in the town. The protest was scheduled to last five days but continued for a month after the killings.