Cop under probe in woman's death exonerated

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, October 05, 2017

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LITTLE LONDON, Westmoreland - The senior policeman who was being investigated by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) in connection with the murder of 21-year-old Shantel Wright in june this year has been exonerated.

“...having conducted all those investigative steps over the period of time since the body was found, we [INDECOM] found nothing to support an allegation that the named police officer, or any other police officer, was responsible for her [Wright's] disappearance and ultimately her death,” Errol Chattoo, director of complaints, INDECOM, Western Region, told the Jamaica Observer West earlier this week.

“Arising out of that, INDECOM came to the conclusion that this is a matter outside of our remit and so it was on that basis that we handed over the investigation to the JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force] for them to continue to investigate the circumstances of how she disappeared and ultimately was murdered,” Chattoo added.

Last night, a senior police investigator told the Observer West that in their investigation of Wright's murder, which is said to be proceeding smoothly, a person of interest has been identified.

Wright's body was found in a canefield close to her Little London home, two days after she went missing.

At the time, fuming residents, including family members, mounted several roadblocks along the Little London main road in a massive demonstration during which they chanted their demand for the arrest of the accused police officer.

According to the family members, Wright, who was employed as a member of the administrative staff at the Savanna-la-Mar Police Station, was at a party hosted by her mother at a small shop in the community on the night of Wednesday, June 14.

About 11:30 pm she decided to leave the party and it is said that she was driven home by the lawman, a short distance from where the entertainment event was being hosted.

But after she went missing residents became curious and, along with the Westmoreland police, launched a search for the young woman. Her body was subsequently discovered in a canefield by a woman.

INDECOM, based on reports, then launched a probe into Wright's disappearance and subsequent murder.

“A report was made of a missing young lady in the form of Shantel Wright. Shantel Wright's body was discovered yesterday (Friday, June 16) in a canefield in Little London, Westmoreland. INDECOM received information after the discovery that a police officer had information that could assist with an investigation,” Chattoo disclosed at the time.

The residents strongly suspected that the cause of Wright's death was strangulation because a belt was found in close proximity to where the corpse was found.

But yesterday, Chattoo revealed that an autopsy determined that Wright died as a result of stab wounds.

“We attended the post -mortem as well to confirm what was the cause of death, and discovered that in fact she was not strangled, but in fact she was stabbed to death. So the issue of the belt did not factor into her death. This belt that they said they found beside the body, “ Chattoo said.

He argued that since Wright's death, INDECOM has carried out “a number of investigate steps”.

“Our investigate steps included processing the scene where the body was found and submitting whatever exhibits we found to the laboratory,” the INDECOM director of complaints noted.

“We also processed the police officer's motor vehicle, processed the house where Shantel lived, we made the necessary enquiry regarding the police officer's phone and Shantel's phone as well; we interviewed several witnesses and investigated the alibi on the part of the police officer.”

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