Police in Jamaica under scrutiny for mishandling dead man’s body

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Terence Williams

Commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams said it was “disturbing and unacceptable” the manner in which the man’s body was flung into the back of a police vehicle.

 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday May 30, 2016 – Police in Jamaica are being chastised for failing to respect the dead, after a video circulating on social media showed them throwing the body of a man who was killed by officers earlier this month.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) – which probes the actions of members of the security forces and other agents of the State that result in death or injury to persons or the abuse of the rights of persons – criticized the officers who handled the body of John Hibbert following the shooting on May 17.

INDECOM said the video showed lawmen callously throwing Hibbert into the back of a police vehicle

“What is both disturbing and unacceptable is the manner in which the body of Mr. Hibbert is flung into the back of the vehicle with absolutely no regard or sense of humanity for him. All citizens, irrespective of what they have allegedly done, or who they may be, are entitled to be treated with a measure of respect,” Commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams said.

“The removal of the deceased from any crime scene, whether by police officers, ambulance service or mortuary officials is deserving of a level of professionalism, dignity and respect, both for the dead and for those family members and friends who are often present.”

Williams added that because officers are not qualified medical personnel and cannot formally pronounce persons dead, they are required to always treat a victim as injured until the official proclamation of death by a qualified person.

He said that while the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Human Rights and Use of Force Policy outlines that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment, the video did not show that policy was adhered to.

The INDECOM chief also expressed concern about the recent trend in which photographs and videos – taken by police officers, or allowed to be taken by them – were being circulated on social media.

Williams said INDECOM had received comments and complaints about this trend, and he has urged officers to ensure they act, at all times, “with the utmost professionalism and demonstrate the due respect for citizens and the families of these dead or injured men”.

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