A Number of Taxi Operators lined up on sidewalks of Spanish Town Road close to the Denham Town Police Station yesterday morning, Tuesday, January 28, to protest against the shooting death of a colleague, but officers claim that the driver tried to run over one of their own.
The dead man is identified as a 25-year-old Shawayne Armstrong, a resident of Gibraltar district in Bog Walk, St Catherine. Armstrong was shot and killed on Monday after a policeman discharged one round, allegedly through the windshield of his Toyota Probox motor car.
“Dem a tek set on the taxi man dem and a this it come to. After dem kill di man, gunman kill man under dem nose, but a taxi man dem have strength for,” said one of the taxi drivers protesting.
People on the scene of yesterday’s demonstration stated that the police killing was resulted from last week’s mowing down of a traffic cop by a taxi operator in New Kingston. The policeman underwent surgery at hospital after the motor car ran over his leg.
Angry demonstrators yesterday dismissed the claims that there was a confrontation between Armstrong and a cop before a shot was fired.
“Is just a trigger-happy policeman. There was no fight. The man dead around his steering,” said another protester who requested his name withheld due to being feared and targeted by the police.
Ivel Sewell, a relative of the taxi man, said that the family had been shaken by the loss. “Shawayne is jovial and hardworking, very dependable. As you take up the phone and call him, he would be there,” said Sewell.
“He is running taxi for about eight years and earning his money. Everybody love him; always smiling, and easy to get along with. I can’t even concentrate cause nothing what they said or what come out of it can bring back Shawayne.”
Head of the Kingston Western Police Division, Leighton Grey, says that the fatal killing was under probe.
He said that the driver had been illegally soliciting passengers from his ‘robot’ taxi.
“We realised that he disobeyed what was taking place in terms of the instruction given and grabbed the papers from the police … and actually hit down a policeman. Being on the bonnet in fear of his life, he actually fired one round, which caught him in his chest and he was rushed to hospital,” said the superintendent.
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Assistant Commissioner Hamish Campbell confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the shooting incident.
It is not yet known if the officer has been taken off front line duties.
Campbell stated that investigators went back to the area on Tuesday and corresponded with residents and other concerned persons.
At least one eyewitness has provided information to INDECOM.
Campbell also said that investigators would also determine whether CCTV technology might be included in their investigation.
The Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau have also concluded the probe into the fatal shooting.