VICTORIA TOWN, Manchester — Residents here are still in disbelief and shock that a man whom they described as a well-respected citizen and dedicated community member was killed in a mob attack in Mandeville, days before his wedding.
Chieftin Campbell, 62, died from injuries he sustained after he was beaten by a crowd of people on lower Manchester Road mid-afternoon on Friday.
“He is a decent citizen. [He] just buried his mother a month ago. It is so saddening to how they beat him and kill him,” said Victoria Town resident Audrey Pinnock-Gosse.
His death sparked protests in southern Manchester on Saturday as residents used debris and downed trees to block sections of the main road in their community.
Residents said the father of three had just left his common-law wife in a nail salon when the mob attack started.
A man who identified himself as Patrick, otherwise called Chikie, said the residents want justice.
“The lady (common-law-wife) just fly down to get married. She was across the road doing her nails. The man park him van to go across the road to get some stuff. He had a lot of cash on him and they beat him and took away the cash, so I want to know [about] all the cameras in Mandeville,” he said.
A video, which went viral on social media, shows Campbell lying on a sidewalk surrounded by a crowd hurling robbery accusations.
“They didn’t show us when all the citizens were beating the man, so we want the police to locate all the cameras [in Mandeville] in their investigation to find the real [culprits],” said Patrick.
Campbell’s neighbour, Nicola Stewart, believes his death was a case of mistaken identity.
“I have known him for over 45 years. I have not known him to be a criminal, I have not known him to be in any wrongdoing, so it was surprising yesterday [Friday] when I got a call that Mr Campbell was killed in Mandeville,” she said.
“I thought that they had robbed him and killed him but further, I found out that citizens mobbed him claiming that he was a robber,” she added.
“I think it was a case of mistaken identity,” she said.
Residents have criticised the police for handcuffing Campbell before he was taken to hospital.
“Police handcuffed the man and the man telling [the police] that he is diabetic and it is tight around his hand,” said another resident, Verna Brooks-Hudson.
Another resident blamed the police for Campbell’s death.
“Police responsible for the man’s death…. The roadblock naah stop until we get justice,” he said.
However, head of the Manchester police, Superintendent Lloyd Darby on Friday explained that officers were on foot patrol in Mandeville when they saw the crowd.
“The crowd accused the man of stealing and the police realised that he had blood around the area of his nostrils,” said Darby.
He said the police took Campbell to the Mandeville Regional Hospital where he died while undergoing treatment.
He made an appeal for anyone with information that can assist in the investigation to contact the police.
Councillor Claudia Morant-Baker (Porus Division, Jamaica Labour Party) said she knew Campbell well.
“He was committed to this community. When you hear the people venting, they have to vent because to me Victoria Town lost a legend — a good and humble person,” she said.
She said hospital staff did everything they could to save his life.
“When I spoke to people at the hospital and they told me that they did everything [possible] to try to resuscitate him, I cried. It hurts to know that a father, friend and brother is gone because of a misunderstanding,” she said.
She is appealing to citizens to refrain from mob attacks.
“I want to [tell] the residents that when these circumstances arise, let the police do their work; don’t take matters into your hands. Because of that now an innocent man’s life is gone,” she said.
She said Campbell was a member of the Victoria Town school board.
“We are all crying because we know the value of this man. He serves on the school board. He serves his community. I spoke to him two days before he died and he reminded me that he [was] going to check in with the school,” she said.
“This can’t be a bad man. You take away from us a good man,” she lamented in closing.