'The next time they will kill somebody'

Traumatised family of man beaten by police demand justice

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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THE family of a man seen in a video being beaten by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is demanding “justice”, arguing that the Sunday morning incident has left them shaken.

The man, 24-year-old Romaine Abrahams, was seen in the video, which has since gone viral on social media, descending a flight of stairs. He was being followed closely by the police officers, who appeared to engage him in a heated spat.

Once the parties reached the ground floor of the high-rise building in Denham Town, west Kingston, Abrahams and the lawmen walked a short distance before a tussle ensued between him and one of the cops.

Abrahams was then thrown to the ground by the lawman, who is then joined by his colleague. The two rained blows on the young man, before one stomped on his head.

The incident drew the ire of neighbours who screamed at the lawmen in hopes of getting them to stop.

The onslaught was interrupted only when another lawman pulled his colleague away from Abrahams.

At this point, that cop raised his gun towards the crowd, from which Abrahams' Metropolitan Parks & Market (MPM) colleague steps forward to speak with the officer. The injured man's brother also intervenes, while voicing his displeasure at how his older brother was being treated.

Yesterday, the Police High Command, in a statement, said that it has instructed its Inspectorate and Professional Oversight Bureau to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding “an altercation, caught on camera, between police officers and citizens in Kingston West”.

However, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer yesterday, Abrahams and his family said they were not satisfied with the police's response.

According to the group, the video, recorded by residents, should be enough to relieve the cops of their duties.

“They are a menace to society,” Abrahams' sister Sherian Abrahams-Williams said.

“This is not the first time men who call themselves police come in this same ghetto and senselessly beat people. The next time they will kill somebody. We want justice and we will not stop until them lose them work and deh lock-up,” she continued.

Williams-Abrahams told the Observer that lawmen “stormed” the building shortly after 6:00 am, allegedly with guns in hand, knocking on doors, all while shouting, “Police!”

She said her mother was asked by her brother who was at the door.

At that point, she said her mother opened the door to a “barrage” of questions from the lawmen, reportedly including whether or not “any bwoy in deh?”

The woman said this was when her brother asked what the matter was, and why the cops were being so aggressive.

“Him seh, 'Officer, mi nuh understand the problem, why unuh a behave suh fah?'. Them take him out and a walk him down the stairs and him tell Mommy fi go fi him ID (identification card). Anyway, them continue walk him down the stairs. When him reach the zone and them seh, 'Go in the car', one of them push him and start fight him and every one of them start fight him. Them a beat him, brutally, kick him inna him face. Them kick him inna him neck; them step pon him. Four of them do him bad. One of them end up take up a stone and lick him with the stone. That's when his co-worker run out inna him MPM work clothes and mi other brother in the black shirt rush and a ask why them a do him suh,” Williams-Abrahams stated.

Her brother is alleged to have called one of the lawmen “b.... bwoy” in the lead-up to the incident.

“Him did almost unconscious. When him get up him nuh know what happen. Him did a stagger. Fi know seh them do him that cut wi up. It cut wi up bad. It traumatise wi. When you see neighbours come out suh and a defend him and we and them nuh talk, yuh must know,” she stressed.

Abrahams, the father of a four-year-old son, also spoke to the Observer yesterday from his doctor's office: “All now mi a look pon the video and eye water inna mi eye. Every time mi watch it mi cry. A cry mi a cry, star. Mi not a idler; mi work, suh fi watch back and see them a do mi suh mek mi cry. Mi feel a way,” the man, who was connected to an IV drip during the interview, said.

“When them handcuff mi and put mi inna the vehicle, them still a beat mi. Mi mother a ask weh mi do why them a lick and a beat her son suh,” he added.

He said he was taken to Kingston Public Hospital, before being charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

“Right now I am feeling dizzy and I'm in a lot of pain. Mi have pain inna mi neck, in my hands, and mi can't even stand up so good. Mi feel weak-out bad. Mi never imagine this fi myself,” he told the Observer.

In the meantime, Abrahams-Williams said that she was grateful residents captured the incident on camera.

“We need justice for this. I am very happy people record it. Mi thankful fi them who was out there early videoing everything, from the start... I was very grateful to them. It grieve them too, and it hurt them. What everybody was saying is that if it was in the midnight hours they would kill him... Them never expect that people would come out videoing. So I'm thankful and mi really appreciate them for doing this for us,” she said.

“What wi want right now is fi [Prime Minister] Andrew Holness step in fi this, because a the second person this happen to. The next person them a mix-up them wi kill them. Wi have good people in the ghetto. Wi have bad, but wi have good too. Not everybody bad,” Abrahams-Williams said.

She said that the family will be contacting an attorney.


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