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US pathologist concerned about deaths in police custody

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Internationally renowned pathologist Dr Michael Baden says that he is concerned about the death of people in police custody.

Baden, who is based in the United States, made the declaration yesterday as he arrived at the Sangster International Airport for today's autopsy on the body of 31-year-old Mario Deane, who died while in the custody of the Barnett Street Police early August. The autopsy was postponed to allow relatives to secure the services of an independent pathologist to oversee the examination.

Yesterday, Dr Baden told reporters that he became concerned after learning Deane's demise and offered his assistance.

"I am concerned. I have done a lot of work in the United States. I am concerned about deaths in police custody," Dr Baden noted.

"We have had a serious problem in the United States, and I have been involved for 35 years in investigating deaths through actions in police custody. And the [relatives] here are very concerned about the death of their son, and I think that's a legitimate concern, and [I am going to] try and see if I can provide any answers as to what happened," he commented.

Meanwhile, co-convenor of Citizens Action for Principles and Integrity (CAPI), Dennis Meadows -- who was on hand to meet Dr Baden at the airport -- expressed his pleasure at the arrival of the pathologist.

"The findings of the autopsy report are critical to the evidence gathering and the investigating process. And, therefore, we anxiously await the findings of Dr Baden to ensure that the truth comes out and those who are so culpable be held accountable," Meadows said.

Deane was beaten, allegedly by fellow inmates, after he was arrested on August 3 for possession of a small amount of ganja. He was allegedly denied bail after he voiced his dislike for the police and later taken to hospital after suffering severe injuries. He died three days later.

The police initially told doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital that Deane fell off a bunk, which led his relatives and friends to stage a massive protest in Montego Bay to demand the truth. Other demonstrations were led by civil society groups.

Deane's death has not only sparked outrage locally but has attracted international attention, with two prominent US-based attorneys joining forces with local attorney Miguel Lorne in representing the grieving family.

Jasmine Rand, a civil rights attorney and human rights activist, and Benjamin Crump, president-elect of the National Bar Association and who represents the family of Michael Brown who was killed under controversial circumstances by police in Ferguson, Missouri, have opted to lend their support to the legal team.

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