Public pressure can't quash a jury's verdict

Letters to the Editor

Public pressure can't quash a jury's verdict

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The views expressed by Jason McKay in his piece 'Scapegoats of the Immaculate girl tragedy', published in the Jamaica Observer on June 16, 2019, are disappointing, particularly from a serving district constable.

The trial of three police officers accused of killing Vanessa Kirkland was correctly prosecuted and properly defended. It was the court and jury which heard the full evidence, and a jury found them guilty.

The selective interpretation presented as facts by District Constable McKay does not fairly address the detailed evidence heard. Whether officers were fired upon was a question of fact, and the jury's verdict would appear to have dismissed the version of events given by the officers.

Further, contrary to McKay's account, the victim of the robbery did attend court and give evidence.

What the case highlights, yet again, is the failure of some police officers to comply with the Jamaica Constabulary Force's clearest policy instructions, which instructs officers not to fire at or from moving vehicles. The tragic consequences have been repeatedly seen over the years. Trained members of the police force are individually responsible for their decision to use deadly force and must recognise the consequences that may occur when doing so. In this instance, no life was saved, but rather one child's was lost, and other juveniles seriously injured.

Most troubling is this remark: “This wrong must be made right with the use of public relations and the power of the police force as a union and, I daresay, a voting bloc.”

No person, let alone a member of the security forces, should incite a campaign of public pressure (to include references to political pressure) to seek to quash a jury's verdict. Jamaica's independent judicial system will properly address any issues in the proper forum.

McKay's remarks threatens replacing the essential principles of the rule of law with rule by force and influence.

Terrence F Williams


Independent Commission of Investigations

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