News

Grief - ‘I did not know the sex of my unborn child’

St Thomas community in mourning after police shooting of pregnant woman

By TANESHA MUNDLE and GARFIELD ROBINSON

Monday, September 03, 2012    

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IT was a happy Kayann Lamont, eight months pregnant, who returned home from Manchester last Friday after spending the summer with the father of her unborn child. She was planning to revisit him today.

But the 27-year-old woman, who returned to Logwood in St Thomas to do last-minute back-to-school shopping for her two daughters, never got that chance. Her life came to an abrupt and horrific end on Saturday when she was shot in a controversial incident in Yallahs.

Lamont's sister, Novia, who was also injured in the shooting, was yesterday in a stable condition in hospital, according to family members.

The family said the 27-year-old woman was shot twice, once in the head, while resisting arrest after she was overheard by a policeman using indecent language.

The officer involved in the controversial shooting was yesterday taken into custody, but that was not enough for Lamont's grief-stricken family and members of her community who yesterday expressed outrage at the manner in which the young woman's life came to an end.

"Me feel really bad. Everywhere we go a me and har, we nuh left we one another," said her oldest sister, Shemean Lamont, who stated that she was with her sisters at the time of the shooting, but managed to escape unhurt.

"We want justice. She did not even have a weapon and was hassled and killed like that? We want justice!" she shouted.

According to Shemean's version of the story, the three sisters had just returned from downtown, Kingston when Kayann was overheard using expletives while telling her cousin about how she had been robbed of her money and cellphone while shopping in the city. The policeman, she said, reprimanded her sister, even as he repeated the said word.

Kayann, she said, replied: "Everybody cuss badword, even unuh cuss badword."

But the officer was not pleased with her response and informed her that he was going to arrest her. He then held on to her right hand and allegedly manhandled her, despite being told by onlookers to release her.

Shemean said she and her sister Novia protested, but it was to no use as, in no time, there were explosions and her sister fell to the ground, rolling and bleeding. Novia, she said, was shot in the shoulder.

"Same time mi run behind a fat woman and bend down then get up and run," said Shemean, as she detailed how she managed to escape.

"When mi run off mi hear the third shot ... and that was when the other policemen held onto to the alleged shooter." Four policemen, she said, were on the scene.

Yesterday, Kayann's companion, Leroy Dennis, was himself a picture of grief as he hugged Lamont's five-year-old daughter Sabreka Salmon.

Dennis, who yesterday travelled to St Thomas to comfort the family, said he last spoke with Lamont on her cellphone Saturday, moments after she had been robbed. He said he was looking forward to seeing her today.

"She left me [in Mandeville] Friday evening about 5:30 [to make final preparations] for the children's back-to-school. She said she had to go downtown to buy some things," Dennis said, relating his last face-to-face encounter with his companion.

The distraught Dennis said he never even knew the sex of his unborn child as he wanted it to be a surprise.

The slain woman's friend, Latoya Ricketts, who could barely speak when the Jamaica Observer visited St Thomas yesterday, said Lamont had been staying at her house since her pregnancy and had left on Saturday morning to clean her own house.

"A yesterday morning a wake up and say to my niece 'where is Kay' and she say 'she gone up gone clean cause she say dog a dig out round de house' and me say when dog a dig up house me granny tell me say somebody ago dead," Ricketts said in sorrowful retrospect.

Shortly after that she said she got the terrible news and rushed to the hospital where she saw her friend's lifeless body lying on a hospital bed with blood oozing from her wounds.

One community member who was among a group of visibly upset men said that the police should have handled the matter differently.

"A woman cuss a badword, call too female officers if you can't manage, not because de people dem a laugh deal with it in a better way," he said, interspersing his comments with colourful words.

According to the man, persons were laughing when the officer fell along with Lamont while he was dragging her to the station and the officer allegedly got enraged.

Lamont's grandmother, Esmin Thompson, who raised the sisters, said yesterday that in spite her loss she was happy that the two other sisters had survived the ordeal.

"It could have been my three granddaughters all on one day," she said sorrowfully.

In the meantime, Superintendent Michael Smith of the Yallahs Police Station said statements were collected yesterday morning by officers from his station as well as personnel from the Independent Commission of Investigation.

The policeman in question will remain in custody until a ruling has been made by the director of public prosecution, Smith said.

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