POLICE on Sunday barged into the funeral service of Adif Washington — the 37-year-old who was in January shot and killed while receiving treatment at the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon — and ordered the ceremony to a premature end.
The incident angered Washington's relatives and friends, who turned out for the funeral held at the Holy Jerusalem Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pathside district in Clarendon. At least one relative described the police actions as inappropriate.
"The funeral was an 11:00 am funeral, but you know with the viewing and so on it start 'bout 12:00," the relative told the Jamaica Observer on Sunday. "Some time later inna di funeral the police dem come inna di church and seh that the people dem need to speed up the funeral because the area is under curfew and dem not leaving 'till everybody come off the road".
The relative said that 15 minutes later the police, who were encamped outside the church and who had earlier searched the vehicles of several mourners who attended the funeral, re-entered the church. This time they demanded that everyone leave the premises. This happened around 2:00 pm while the pastor was delivering his sermon, said the relative.
After that, the police gave mourners half-an-hour to bury Washington's body. The relative complained that members of the police force also entered the nearby private lot on which the body was being buried and verbally abused mourners there.
"The people dem a talk 'bout it because from last night (Saturday night) from the 'set-up', the police came and searched every vehicle that came down there. So we want to know why dem a treat we so," said the relative, who alleged that it was the police who killed Washington and not gunmen as reported in official police reports.
Sunday, Senior Superintendent Michael Bailey, who heads the Clarendon Police Division, said that he was unaware of any disturbances by the police at the funeral. He confirmed that the area was under curfew, but said the curfew would not have come into effect until 6:00 pm that day, and thus would not have had any implications for the funeral.
"What I know is that we have an operation order to monitor that funeral and so the police were there but I don't have any information about the disruption of the funeral service; and that wouldn't be a part of our plans," he said, explaining that the monitoring order would not have stipulated the end time for the funeral.
"We went there to prevent any kind of criminal activities like gun salutes, and that sort of things, we had nothing to do with the funeral itself," he said.
According to official police reports — Washington who was hospitalised after he was shot several times the day before -- was shot in the head and eye by two men who tied up a security guard stationed at the entrance to the male surgical ward where he was.
He died in his sleep.