THE grieving relatives of Mario Deane, whose death while in the care of the Barnett Street police has caused howls of outrage, have retained the services of attorney Miguel Lorne to act on their behalf in the controversial matter.
Lorne confirmed that he was in fact representing Deane’s disgruntled relatives and said he would be moving with alacrity in seeking justice for his clients.
“As early as Monday morning we intend to write the minister of justice and the attorney general informing them of our intention to file a lawsuit against the police officers involved, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the attorney general, who represents the Government of Jamaica. Justice must be realised in this matter,” Lorne said.
Deane died in hospital after he was severely beaten while in the custody of the State and his relatives have been left with bile in their mouths days after his untimely demise because of what they say is the uncaring action of the police.
“They did not come to us. We had to go to them. None of the senior police never saw it fit to reach out to the family and even offer condolences. It was us who went to them,” Deane’s sister, Sadiki Deane, said.
The situation has grown upon his mother, Marcia Fraser, who has lost her only son.
“She seemed to be holding up at first but as the days go by it is wearing her down. We feel further frustrated by the way they are treating the matter. Our hearts hurt more and more each day,” she said.
The relatives of the dead man are sticking to their story that the police informed medical staff at the Cornwall Regional Hospital that he had fallen off a bed when it was clear that his injuries could not have been as severe if that were the case.
“I asked the doctor if someone who had fallen off a bed could look like how my brother looked and he turned to my mother and said ‘Madam, in my estimation, no'”, she said.
But soon the police version of events would change after news of Deane’s death began to spread like wildfire and a demonstration was staged against what has been described by his friends and relatives as a clear-cut case of homicide.
The cops then reported that he had been beaten by a set of prisoners after he was placed in a cell during a fight over a bunk he was ordered not to occupy.
But his relatives are not buying that version of events.
“Fists could not have done the damage that was done to my brother. I saw what was under the bandages and no body part, whether a fist or kicks, could have done that,” she said.
The matter arose after Deane was arrested for possession of a small amount of ganja and was taken to the police station to be processed. The police said that he was being offered station bail for the minor offence but he failed to give them the required information which forced them to keep him in custody.
However, his friend who went to bail him out said that the process was almost finished when Deane expressed his dislike for a policewoman, who retaliated by telling his friend to return at 5:00 pm as she would be keeping him a little longer. However, his friend grew suspicious and returned to the station at 3:00 pm, only to be informed that Deane, who had been in perfect health only hours earlier, was taken to hospital by the police.
Deane slipped into a coma and never recovered. He died on Independence Day.
The incident has caused Justice Minister Mark Golding and National Security Minister Peter Bunting to express their disgust that a man held for possession of a small amount of ganja could end up dead.
Both men said that legislation would be fast-tracked to remove the powers of arrest from police personnel for small amounts of ganja.
A number of civil society groups and the wider society have condemned the act and have called for the police personnel involved to be brought to book.
All the cops who were on duty when the incident occurred were interviewed by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) and were ordered to hand over reports by Friday.
The Commission has indicated that someone may be found culpable as the cops breached legislation by not checking up on the inmates who were in their custody, even if Deane was beaten by other inmates.
On Friday the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communications Unit in a news release said that two men were charged with murder arising from Deane’s death.
They were listed as Marvin Orr, 35, labourer of Bestwell in Portland, and Adrian Morgan, 25, also a labourer of Westmoreland.
Both are scheduled to appear before the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, August 13.
The CCN said that another man was being processed, even as INDECOM continues to probe the matter.