Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell testifies that there was no justification for shooting Linden protestors
Police Commissioner, Leroy Brumell was the first person to be summoned before the Commission of Inquiry, which is looking into the events of July 18th, that left 3 persons dead and 2 dozen others injured during a protest in the town.
The Police Commissioner was questioned about the police force’s handling of the protest and the shooting of the protestors. During questioning by the one of the Inquiry Commissioners, Justice KD Knight of Jamaica, Brumell revealed that two units were deployed to deal with the Linden Protests. There was a Tactical Services Unit and a Linden Anti-Crime Unit. All members of the Unit he said, were armed but with various weapons. However, he said, that ballistics results carried out on the weapons the policemen carried were not yet available. He said, he told the Commander on the ground and the officer overlooking the protests that they should engage the protestors by speaking to them and their leaders. He said, he never told them anything about shooting. The order to shoot, the Commissioner said, came from Assistant Superintendent, Todd, who was in charge of the TSU ranks.
After the shooting incident, the Police Commissioner said, he was first informed of it by members of the press who were contacting him. He said it was only then that he contacted the commander at Linden and received confirmation although the commander could not say whether persons were injured.
Asked about the role of the Minister of Home Affairs, Brumell told the Commission that he met with Minister Rohee on the day before the protest, to inform him of the plan the force had in place to deal with the protests. He said Rohee never give him any instructions then, but after the shooting incident, the Minister instructed him to remove the Commander from the area and he explained why he did just that.
The top cop also told the Commission that from reports he got, missiles including bottles and bricks, were thrown at policemen by the protestors, when asked if that evidence was collected, Brummel seemed stumped.
Later the Police Commissioner admitted, that undercover policemen from a Special Branch were also on the ground at the Linden protests. He said they were armed but their weapons were never taken for ballistics tests. The Commission members asked, that that be done. The Police Commissioner also said, that the reason he dispatched the Tactical Services UUnit was because he had gotten information that the protest would have created some problems. He refused to give the source for that intelligence but said the information came in after permission was already granted. He told the Commission, that there were several previous protests marches in Linden before the 18th July and those marches were all peaceful. The Police Commissioner committed to provide the Commission with several statements and documents from the Police Force about its operations and how it handled events at Linden, on the 18th July. Attorneys representing the APNU and relatives of the victims began their grilling of the Police Commissioner just after the Commissioners had all asked questions.
Meanwhile, before the Commission began to take evidence today from the Police Commissioner, it dealt with two other issues raised by APNU attorneys. The commission said it will continue with the two attorneys it has in its employ, since they are not responsible for any decision making and could be dealt with if they are found to be doing anything that could impact the proceedings. And the Commission also denied a request by Attorney Basil Williams, to put the proceedings on hold until the President considered adding two additional days to the terms of reference for the Commission. The Head of the Commission said, justice delayed is justice denied and they were not going to delay justice. If there is a change in the terms of reference while the Commission is sitting, that could easily be accommodated.