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Public defender says St Thomas shooting 'inexplicable'

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2012    

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PUBLIC Defender Earl Witter has summed up as 'inexplicable', the killing of pregnant mother Kayann Lamont in Yallahs, St Thomas last Saturday.

"I am absolutely stupefied by the circumstances as a whole: What could have prompted, provoked or caused an officer to shoot to kill a defenceless woman, who is eight months pregnant?" Witter asked.

He explained that investigations were started by his office on Monday, which he followed up yesterday by visiting both the scene in Yallahs, and the hometown of the slain woman and her family in Logwood.

The public defender said that his office's intervention is supplementary to that of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), and that his office is investigating whether the deceased's constitutional right to life was abrogated by the state.

In the circumstances, Witter said his office would not be focusing solely on the state of mind of the accused policeman, Corporal Dwayne Smart, but whether the shooting was accidental or in self-defence.

"There is the issue of the protection of the victim's right to life, and if he was not acting in self-defence, and if it was not accidental, then there is an infringement, and we will have to seek reparations from the State for the estate of the deceased, including

adequate protection for her daughters," he explained.

"The estate is entitled to a remedy, where there has been an abrogation of the right to life. We will also be recommending to the Ministry of National Security that the Government undertake the funeral expenses," he added.

A candlelight vigil was scheduled for last night at the very site in Yallahs where Lamont was shot twice in the head. Her sister, Novia, who was also shot in the same incident, was released from hospital yesterday evening.

The Jamaica Observer was told that the vigil was organised by the St Thomas police outreach in an effort to reconcile with the enraged residents, who on Monday staged another round of protests against the shooting.

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness was scheduled to attend last night's vigil, accompanied by member of parliament for Western St Thomas James Robertson, and Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) spokeswoman on youth,

sports, gender affairs, entertainment, and culture.

Grange said last night that they would be supported by a team of JLP observers, who wished to offer their condolence and support to the family of the Lamont sisters.

Robertson said that he has been focusing on compensation for the family, after securing the support of relevant Government agencies.

"I've made sure that all the relevant Government agencies, including INDECOM, have kicked in, and now I am focusing on redress for the family. That is my priority as the member of Parliament now; and I am not into a 10-year wait for redress for the family," Robertson said.

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