February 8, 2019 –Three officers were today found guilty of manslaughter, in the Home Circuit Court, in relation to the 2012 death of Vanessa Kirkland. In three months the issue of police officers firing at vehicles has been the subject of two court cases recently concluded. At the end of 2018, a senior officer was also convicted in St. James.
There has been a trend and practice of some members of the police force, over many years, firing at moving or stationary vehicles, when there is insufficient assessment of the threat level to all concerned. Frequently, innocent members of the public are victims of this exchange in gunfire. Greater caution and a more tactical approach must be considered in order to counter the perceived danger from occupants of a vehicle.
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are reminded that their Use of Force Policy states that: “Firearms will NOT be discharged at a vehicle, simply because it has failed to stop for a signal at a road check, or to immobilize the vehicle”. We must emphasize that incidents involving death or serious injury to persons in vehicles could be avoided, and we hope that we will not see any more of these types of incidents.
The Commission recognizes the hard work of the investigative team, international forensic expert, and the prosecution team from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).