How did Latoya Monte die?

How did Latoya Monte die?

Police report she was shot in confrontation with cops; not true, says grieving mom

Monday, January 11, 2021

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SHE was number 50 on the list of police killings for 2020 but up until now the elusive details of what led to the death of Briton Latoya Monte, in an empty apartment on East Bloomsbury Road in Kingston, during an alleged confrontation with police officers continue to mystify relatives who describe as “bizarre” the police account of the shooting.

The police, in a statement on June 30, 2020, had said Monte, of Maxfield Avenue in Kingston, “was fatally shot during a confrontation with the police at about 6:50 pm on Monday, June 29”. The statement said a chrome and black Lugar CZ 75 B pistol, with eight 9mm rounds, was seized during the incident and that the matter was reported to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) as well as the Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau of the constabulary.

However, Kim Monte, mother of the dead woman — following a visit to Jamaica and meetings with INDECOM — is disputing the account of the cops.

Monte, who in the earlier days following the shooting was said to be too distressed to speak to the media, broke her grief-stricken silence in an interview with the Jamaica Observer last December.

“Me and my family are working with INDECOM to find out what actually took place; I basically wanted to find out the truth for myself. I am just a mother who wants to find out what happened to my daughter,” Monte said.

Her sister, Karen, filling in for Monte each time she broke down during the interview, said the police report was that on the day in question her niece was travelling in her car with a male passenger who had an altercation with a taxi driver. The taxi driver reported the incident to the police, who later came across the vehicle driven by her niece but without the male on-board. A search of the vehicle yielded nothing.

“Our understanding is that the police wanted to carry out a personal body search on Latoya and that basically Latoya made a request to say she would rather be searched somewhere privately. They left the location where the car was, with Latoya, and went to an address which the police claim that Latoya directed them to and when they got to that address this is when this disturbing incident took place,” Karen Monte said.

The Montes are taking issue with what the police say happened next.

“They took Latoya into that room and they claim that in entering the room Latoya pulled a firearm from underneath her breast an, on producing the firearm, one of the female police officers opened fire on Latoya. Now, as you would appreciate, we had a meeting as a family with INDECOM and in all honesty, we can say that INDECOM are trying their best to assist in this investigation, and what came out of that meeting just does not make any sense on the part of the police officers,” Karen told the Observer.

“Latoya was shot at, at least seven times. One of the bullets hit the wall, six bullets went into Latoya — five exited and one remained inside her. The police claim that whilst Latoya was being shot at she was still alive and she still had the firearm in her hand and this was why there was a continuation of the volley of bullets, which is absolutely absurd,” the aunt argued.

“From what we understand, there was supposed to have been two female police officers in that room at the time. One of the officers has actually made a statement stating that she did not see anything, she did not witness anything,” Karen alleged.

“You have two female officers in that room, and that room is not big enough to even swing a cat, and you have a colleague who claimed to have been blinded to the whole situation, she did not see anything. That in itself is not true,” she said further.

Added Monte: “They also want to claim that Latoya was still holding the gun, despite being shot six times. We believe Latoya died in that room. We do not believe for a moment that Latoya was still alive after she was taken out of that room. We believe it was a cover-up,” Karen argued, referencing the police statement that after the shooting the victim was still alive and so was placed in a police car and taken to Kingston Public Hospital at 7:20 pm.

“The officers who said she was still alive on arrival said she was attended to by a doctor but was pronounced dead at 7:50 pm, at which point INDECOM was contacted and her body transferred to a funeral home.

“We have no confidence in the police. If she was such a threat to them, why did they allow her to walk around so freely? She was not handcuffed or restrained in any sort of way. You had my daughter walking up and down for over half an hour before you took her to the house to search her; you had her in the front of the yard for over 15 minutes arguing with her till eventually she went around the back and then, all of a sudden, as she went around the back she was shot.”

The mother accused the police of withholding evidence.

“I am very angry; there are so many lies,” the exasperated mother said.

“They claimed that Latoya pointed the gun at the female police officers. The police have gone on to say that this firearm that was allegedly on Latoya did not have any serial numbers on it.

“Latoya was not a violent person, she had no reason for having a firearm on her. We believe that that gun was planted on Latoya,” Monte stated.

She said while her daughter's remains have since been repatriated to the United Kingdom and buried, INDECOM's investigations are moving at snail's pace which, in her view, is deliberate on the part of the police.

“We are still waiting because the report from the pathologist has still not been released. There are two things that INDECOM is waiting on — the pathologist report and the ballistics report.

“Bearing in mind that Latoya was killed on the 29th of June this is now six months down the line that the lab has not produced any results, and when we questioned the delay we were told that it has been very, very busy at the forensic lab,” the grieving mother said.

In the meantime, she appealed to anyone who might have details beyond what was captured on CCTV cameras on the road in the area to help fill in the gaps.

“This is a very bizarre situation. Latoya had been taken in the police car to the premises to be searched and then a tow truck lifted her car and brought it to the premises. Why did they do that? It makes no sense. People said my daughter was dead; they said the truck was backed up to the house and she was wrapped in a white sheet and thrown into the back of the truck but they are trying to say they put her in a car,” Monte said.

“We are appealing for witnesses, people who saw anything — however small it is. It may seem insignificant but it may help us. We understand that people are afraid... but we are asking that the Jamaican Government give these people proper witness protection that more people will stand up and come forward,” Monte begged.

She said the identity of the individual who was said to be the cause of the altercation leading to the fatal confrontation remains a mystery.

“This person was in the car, this person had an altercation with the taxi driver, that's all we know. It doesn't make any sense,” she told the Observer.

She said those who knew and loved her daughter will be relentless in their search for answers.

“Latoya's funeral brought the area she grew up in to a standstill. The people were so heartbroken. She was bubbly, she was always jolly. She loved Jamaica, her father's country, and she wanted to live here. She was very well loved, she was kind. Latoya was my only daughter and I am totally broken by my daughter's death. And then to hear what INDECOM is saying the police said is [almost] like you are going to put me in my grave too because they are telling a bag of lies,” she said.


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