Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Killer cops?

• Psychologist, advocate fear officers linked to multiple killings pose danger to society • Veteran lawman says ‘no-nonsense’ cops needed in crime fight

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2022 | 5:37 AMLivern Barrett - Senior Staff Reporter
Mickel Jackson, executive director of JFJ.
Mickel Jackson, executive director of JFJ.
A total of 3,105 citizens have been shot dead by the Jamaican security forces between 2005 and last year, INDECOM data shows.
A total of 3,105 citizens have been shot dead by the Jamaican security forces between 2005 and last year, INDECOM data shows.
Clinical psychologist Susaye Rattigan
Clinical psychologist Susaye Rattigan
INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulkner
INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulkner

His first victims over a 12-year span were two men, ages 20 and 26 years old, who were shot dead in an incident in St Catherine in 2010. Since then, this cop has been involved in 14 shooting incidents across seven parishes that ended with the...

His first victims over a 12-year span were two men, ages 20 and 26 years old, who were shot dead in an incident in St Catherine in 2010.

Since then, this cop has been involved in 14 shooting incidents across seven parishes that ended with the deaths of 18 other men, records compiled by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) have revealed.

His name has not been disclosed by INDECOM, which has oversight responsibility for the security forces, but The Sunday Gleaner will refer to him as Cop A.

Investigations reveal that in 2020 alone, Cop A was involved in six shooting incidents that ended with the deaths of eight people in Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St Ann and St James. The victims’ ages range from 23 to 53 years old.

A second policeman – who The Sunday Gleaner will refer to as Cop B – was involved in 20 shooting incidents dating back to 2010, which the oversight body confirmed resulted in the deaths of 28 people. Their ages range from 16 to 39 years old.

In 2020 alone, Cop B was involved in six shooting incidents that resulted in 10 deaths, documents from INDECOM show.

Cop A and Cop B are among the 14 police officers flagged by INDECOM in its latest report to Parliament for their connection to 112 fatal shooting incidents between 2010 and June 2020, the commission confirmed.

Five of the 14, including Cop A and Cop B, “accounted” for 80 of the 112 police fatal shooting incidents stretching back to 2010.

“This data provides an extraordinary insight into the long-standing situation whereby certain police officers are being frequently deployed and engaged in fatal shooting events, a feature which is both remarkable and grossly disproportionate to total officer numbers,” INDECOM noted.


For clinical psychologist Susaye Rattigan, the data suggest that law enforcement officers involved in multiple killings may have become desensitised. She warns that this could pose a danger to the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.

“The more frequently they do something, the less anxious they are about it, the more likely they are to do it again and the less negative thoughts or emotions will come into play,” Rattigan explained to The Sunday Gleaner. “It puts a lot more people in harm’s way at the hands of these cops who already have a history.”

She said psychologically and emotionally, police officers involved in multiple killings may not be as responsive to any negative thoughts about killing someone.

“So, it becomes easier for them to do it and then what we will see is an increase in force and an increase in them shooting or making attempts to kill.”

Mickel Jackson, executive director of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), finds the INDECOM report disturbing, yet she is not surprised.

“The data in the report that outline that a set of police officers is involved in several fatal shootings is of no surprise to JFJ, as our own experiences and complaints received over the years support this analysis. While JFJ recognises that each allegation with relation to police-involved killings must be judged based on its own unique circumstances, we question how justified or how proportional these shooting incidents were, given that an alarming number are limited to a small number of officers,” Jackson told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

“We acknowledge that the crime levels are high and that criminals are armed, and officers must protect themselves. However, police must always act within the confines of the JCF’s Use of Force and Human Rights Policy.”

Jackson added, “Of concern, as well, is that several of the individuals were unarmed, had less lethal weapons [than the cops] or were mentally ill. We remind that just a few weeks ago, Terron Hewitt, an unarmed man, was shot in the back by a soldier, one whom residents bemoaned allegedly has a history of abuse towards them.”

The human rights lobby executive director said the trend suggests that officers commit these acts with impunity, with prosecutions being rare and investigations conducted below minimum standards.


But one veteran cop, who has served in some of Jamaica’s grittiest communities for decades, believes there is a place for what he described as “no-nonsense” cops in the war on crime.

“You have some bwoy who don’t fear normal cops. They only fear people like [name redacted],” the crime-fighter said.

“Gunmen make it their duty to know certain cops and the units they drive because when dem see regular patrols, they have no fear.”

A total of 3,105 citizens have been shot dead by the Jamaican security forces between 2005 and last year, INDECOM data shows.

Killings by the security forces, which averaged well over 200 per year up to 2013, have since been slashed in half.

The INDECOM 2022 third-quarter report shows that 129 men were killed by members of the security forces in 110 shooting incidents over a 12-month period that ended in June last year. Their ages range from 14 to 63 years old.

The group of 14 cops singled out by the oversight body was involved in 30 of those killings.

“Whether this data is indicative of an unofficial and unspoken practice, whereby shootings are allegedly condoned, tolerated or even covertly encouraged, either directly, by supervising officers, or less directly by ‘public opinion’ or other domains, it is for the JCF senior command to address,” INDECOM said.

“The data requires a robust administrative review to determine the apparent disproportionality that is evidently observable, and a deeper analysis and examination of officers’ involvement in determining their repeated deployment and engagement in shooting incidents.”

The oversight body said 19 of the 129 men shot and killed had no gun or any other weapon and that at least 308 bullets were fired at them.

It noted, too, that 89 guns were seized in 74 of the 110 incidents.

Though numerous cases have been labelled as “suspicious”, the oversight body acknowledged that none have been referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a determination on whether criminal charges should be laid against any of the cops.

“There are multiple reasons why it is not possible to institute criminal or disciplinary proceedings, particularly in the absence of independent evidence, body-worn cameras, citizens unwilling to engage in the judicial process, and where only the police narrative exists,” the INDECOM report said.

The report revealed, too, that the 14 cops racked up a total of 162 ‘other’ complaints by citizens over the 10-year period covered by the investigation.

Twenty-three complaints were filed against Cop A and 26 against Cop B.


The findings outlined in the INDECOM third-quarter report raise questions about whether there is a “bigger issue at play” regarding those police officers involved in multiple killings, Rattigan cautioned.

“Particularly as it relates to their psychological wellness or their moral character, something else may be present in these officers that make them more inclined to kill than the average officer,” the psychologist argued, recommending that they be subjected to a thorough evaluation.

“It bears looking into in terms of: Are these officers fit for duty? Do they need some kind of support or some sort of evaluation in terms of understanding what’s at play here?”

But while acknowledging that the leadership of the JCF has taken note of the issues, INDECOM raised concerns about the pace at which the JCF is moving to deal with a cohort of cops – lauded and feared by their colleagues – who continue to feature in multiple fatal shootings.

“The commission believes this matter has not been fully or sufficiently addressed in a transparent manner by the JCF High Command,” INDECOM said.

Up to late yesterday, there was no response to questions submitted by The Sunday Gleaner to police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay on Friday about the findings of the INDECOM report.

INDECOM disclosed in 2016 that it had identified 41 cops who were involved in the shooting deaths of 400 people.

This included 11 who had each been directly involved in 10 or more fatal shooting incidents, which resulted in 118 deaths or 30 per cent of the 400 killings. Six of those cops were charged for murder and one has since been convicted and is serving a life sentence.

The JFJ said it is calling on Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang and Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson to provide the nation with an update on the measures intended to be deployed to ensure that police officers are held accountable for “this unacceptable level of fatal killings”.

“We note the alarming increase of fatal shootings by security officers over the past three years, where November 2022 data of 126 killed is sending a clear indication it will surpass the 2021 figures,” said Jackson.

“We urge Jamaicans to challenge this moniker of ‘bad man police’ needed to address crime. Rather, we need officers of the highest levels of integrity.”

Cop A

Fatal shooting by year Number of victims

2010 2

2013 1

2015 2

2016 1

2017 1

2018 1

2020 8

2021 4

2022 2

Cop B

2010 1

2012 1

2013 4

2015 2

2017 2

2018 4

2020 10

2021 3

2022 1