Mom of Mario Deane vows to ensure that no other parent suffers similar pain
Mercia Frazer, the mother of 31-year-old Mario Deane, says her fight to ensure that no other mother suffers similar grief has just begun.
Deane, a resident of Rosemount, St James, died at the Cornwall Regional Hospital on Wednesday, August 6, three days after he was battered while in custody at the Barnett Street Police Station, after he was arrested for a small quantity of ganja.
"No, I could not sit back and see another child lost like that. Too long this has been happening and it hurts me when I see mothers crying and then the police fabricating stories," Frazer told the Observer West yesterday.
"It hurts me to the core when parents, who invest in their child's development, lose them to persons who should protect the public."
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness met with Frazer and other members of Deane's family in Montego Bay on Monday, and was moved by the deceased mother's compassionate spirit.
"I was impressed that in her grief, in her distress, in her sorrow, that she was not only concerned about her own emotional state. But she said something that stuck with me. She said she did not want any other mother to have to go through this type of pain and sorrow. There is very little I could say. There is very little that anyone could say to a grieving parent who has lost a child. But for her to be able to rise above her grief and see her son's death as a point of change of the system of justice and law enforcement in Jamaica, is admirable," the Opposition leader argued.
Yesterday, the emotionally tough and selfless Frazer told the Observer West that her gallant fight is "not about a Mario thing, it is about the system, which needs to be changed".
Holness in the meantime said he is compelled to ensure that Deane's death serves as the catalyst for a transformation of the system.
"And it says to me that I have a duty to achieve this goal, so that her son's death is not meaningless," he argued.
The police have charged two inmates, 35-year-old Marvin Orr, labourer of Bestwell, Port Antonio, Portland, and 25-year-old Adrian Morgan, labourer of Petersville, Westmoreland, with Deane's death.
The police say that Deane was arrested for possession of ganja about 7:30 am on August 3 and while in custody officers were reportedly alerted to a brawl in the lock-up where he was being held.
Deane was taken to hospital by the police for treatment, but later succumbed to his injuries, according to police reports.
Late Tuesday, the constabulary announced that six cops had been suspended and interdicted following a probe by the Inspectorate of the Constabulary into the incident which has sparked public outrage.
In the meantime, speaking at a Rotary Club of Falmouth meeting at the Glistening Waters Restaurant in Rock, Trelawny on Tuesday night, head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Terrence Williams, pointed out that it is the responsibility of the State to "take all reasonable steps to prevent prisoners from being injured by their fellow prisoners and by their own hands -- that is by suicide".
"That is the State's responsibility because it is the State that took you into custody and have control over your actions. I don't think that the State is taking its responsibility seriously," charged Williams, who revealed that INDECOM has so far investigated 30 deaths in custody, which dates back to 2007.
"Because we have made these observations from time to time and nothing has been done regarding making a meaningful change, we see repetition of the same misconduct, repetition in neglect time and time again."
The INDECOM boss articulated the need for cells to be fitted with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in order to assist with the observation of prisoners.
Holness had on Monday cited the need for the installation of cameras at the Barnett Street Police Station during a press conference called by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party in Montego Bay.
"Clearly the Barnett Street lock-up would be a very good candidate for CCTVs in the cell block," he told reporters.
Opposition spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith, who was also in attendance at the press conference, made reference to the use of cameras at the Falmouth Station, which he said assisted in the investigation of the death of Kamoza Clarke, who also died as a result of beatings he received while in police custody.
"What solved that situation in Falmouth quite frankly was that it was relatively a new station and they had cameras and the cameras subsequently disproved the initial report of the police personnel, who were assigned at the time," Smith argued.