‘I don’t love to remember it’
A woman testified in the West Kingston enquiry yesterday that she was shot in the back by a police officer as she assisted her son, who was shot in the chest, to the hospital on a handcart.
I don’t love to remember it,” Adina Derby, who sold ground provisions in the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston, told the enquiry.
She said at another point: “I don’t like to remember him. I don’t even like to remember myself at times.”
Derby’s evidence came on a day when commission Chairman Sir David Simmons denied an application by Lloyd D’Aguilar to be readmitted to the enquiry. Simmons said he didn’t find D’Aguilar to be sincere, as he further bashed the enquiry as being a “kangaroo court” and a “farce”, in a letter published last week.
Simmons said he found it puzzling that D’Aguilar would want to be part of the sitting that he had denounced publicly. He was kicked out last week Tuesday after being disruptive and disrespectful to the commissioner. His expulsion came a day after he was warned about his behaviour.
Also yesterday — prior to the evidence of the four witnesses who testified — attorney Linton Gordon (representing the Jamaica Defence Force) bashed a colleague participating in the enquiry for criticising the commissioners on television. Gordon did not name the attorney who appeared on a television programme last week, but described the appearance as “cowardice”. Gordon said if the attorney had an issue he should have raised it during the sitting.
Meanwhile, Derby, who was the day’s second witness, testified that her 20-year-old son Nicholas was shot in the chest while on the upper floor of her house on the morning of May 24, 2010. She said he fell down the stairs and was bleeding. Derby continued that she and the mother of his child put him on a handcart with the intent of taking him to the Kingston Public Hospital. However, she said while she was running behind the handcart, she ran past a policeman who shot her in the back.
She said this was about 8:00 am and that her niece called a soldier and directed him and others to their location. She was taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies and admitted for a month, she said. Derby said a soldier told her that her son was dead after she asked them to transport him to the hospital.
Derby said she needed to be compensated.
But during cross-examination, attorney Deborah Martin pointed out to Derby that she did not put it in her statement of 2010 that she was shot by a policeman. However, the witness insisted that she told it to the representative from the Office of the Public Defender who took the statement.
She was tackled by Martin, who told her that she only mentioned that a police shot her in a statement she gave last month. However, Derby insisted that she had said it from the start that she was shot by a police officer who was stooping by the roadway.
Another witness, Evadney Stewart, testified that she was at home when JDF soldiers arrived and asked her if men were inside. According to Stewart, the soldiers said that if any man was in the house he would be killed.
The elderly Stewart said that the soldiers then took her along with her daughter and other females from the Derrick Path house to a location on nearby Chang Avenue. There, they were put to lie face down in a yard for about half-an-hour, the woman said.
The group was then taken back to Derrick Path and again placed on the ground, when they heard loud explosions and saw houses on Chang Avenue on fire, the woman testified.
Stewart said that when she returned home the place was extensively damaged. The doorjamb was knocked out; the ceiling and the toilet, among other things, were destroyed and the place ransacked.
She said that she received $15,000 from the state to effect repairs to her home, but it wasn’t sufficient and now needs about $70,000 to complete the rest of the repairs.
Another witness, Trevion McFarlane, testified that he lost his zinc and board house and personal belongings to fire during the operation to arrest then area don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who was wanted in the United States on drugs and gunrunning charges. More than 70 people died in the operation.
The enquiry’s 14th witness — bus driver Donovan McPherson — testified that he left the community the day before the operation started and returned days later to find his appliances and car damaged. He estimated his loss at $2 million.
The hearing continues today.