DPP rules murder in pregnant woman's killing
Police high command says incident regrettable
CORPORAL Dwayne Smart, the police officer who shot and killed a heavily pregnant St Thomas woman and injured her sister on the weekend, is to be slapped with murder and other charges.
Yesterday, Acting Director of Public Prosecution, Lisa Palmer-Hamilton ruled that Smart be charged with murder, illegal possession of firearm, wounding with intent, and assault.
Upon the charging of Smart, the prosecution is expected to skip the preliminary enquiry stage of the case in the St Thomas Resident Magistrate's Court and have the matter transferred to the Home Circuit Court in Kingston. The circuit is expected to be reopened on September 17.
Twenty-seven-year-old Kayann Lamont, who was a month away from giving birth, was shot in the head in Yallahs square by Smart following a tussle. Smart had accosted Lamont over the use of indecent language.
Her sister, Novia Lamont, was shot in the shoulder while running to her aid. Another sister, Shemean Lamont, was allegedly assaulted by the cop, who also turned the gun on her. However, the weapon did not fire.
Smart reportedly had to be restrained by colleagues on the scene.
Both women were taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital where Kayann was pronounced dead and Novia admitted. She was released from the hospital yesterday.
The family has since contracted the services of former Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne to get compensation from the State over the incident.
The incident, which allegedly happened in front of several eyewitnesses, has drawn widespread condemnation, including from the rights group Jamaicans for Justice, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party and its affiliate Generation 2000.
In the meantime, the Police High Command, speaking for the first time since the incident yesterday, expressed regret at the shooting and pledged to take all possible steps to minimise the use of force in their interaction with citizens.
"The killing of Miss Kayann Lamont and injuring of her sister... is a terrible tragedy which is deeply regretted," a release from the Constabulary Communication Network said.
The high command emphasised that Smart was taken into custody the same day of the shooting and investigators from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) were contacted.
"Other officers who were present at the time of Miss Lamont's killing have been made available to the INDECOM investigators to be interviewed. All weapons in possession of the cops on duty at time have also been seized and taken to the forensic lab for examination, and the policemen's hands swabbed," the release stated.
Additionally, the high command said that police chaplains have been deployed in the community since Sunday, and have been providing counselling for the affected families and that an administrative review of Saturday's operation will be conducted on September Friday.
"The Police High Command is appealing to everyone to allow the investigations to proceed in a fair manner.
"Where our members are concerned, this incident demands that we reflect deeply on how we engage citizens in conflict situations as we are committed to improving our operations," the release stated.