(JAMAICA GLEANER) – “Mi foot dead! Mi foot dead!” were the reported cries of a 16-year-old schoolboy to his cousin after he was allegedly attacked by a group of Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers in his Majesty Gardens, St Andrew, community on Sunday.
The boy had reportedly just left his grandmother’s with a plate to fetch her dinner from his uncle when he was stopped by the soldiers. His cousin, Petrina Dunn, who said she witnessed most of the incident, said she could not believe what happened.
“Mi only see dem stop him and dem seh two words to him, but because me never close by me never hear. Me see him run off and dem run behind him,” she told The Gleaner last night.
“I was sitting at his gate and him run past his house. So when me see him run past, me stand up and a look fi dem direction.”
Dunn explained that by then, she was facing the soldiers’ back, but “me only see when the gunpoint go up and go down and me see it go up again, and me bawl out and seh, ‘Wah you a do to him?’ and den same time me run towards him and start video.”
At that point, the boy, who plays football for his community and school, said he was not sure what happened to him.
“Him a seh to me, ‘Cuz, cuz, me nuh know wah happen to me foot? Me nuh know if me get shot, or me nuh know if him kick me or wah, but mi foot dead! Mi foot dead.’”
The teen was soon transported to the nearby Kingston Public Hospital, but Dunn and her aunt, Diana Henclewood, said that that was another ordeal. They claim that another group of soldiers arriving on the scene used their vehicle to block the one trying to get the boy to hospital.
“We haffi tek way down a train line, down a di bottom of Majesty Gardens just to get him out,” Henclewood said.
The boy remains in hospital with a broken right leg and injuries to his right side.
Relatives said that senior members of the JDF have since visited them in the community.
The Gleaner did not receive a comment requested of the army before publication.
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) confirmed last night that it was probing the “interaction between a teenager and members of the Jamaica Defence Force”.
“The investigation is at the early stages, the first stage of which is to identify and request statements of all critical persons in the case, which is what the team is currently engaged in doing,” Denyelle Anderson, the oversight body’s public relations officer, told The Gleaner.
Multiple videos have emerged showing the wailing boy on the ground surrounded by soldiers with their weapons. Some civilians were also present, shouting, expressing disgust. Some could be heard talking about human rights and INDECOM.
It is not clear exactly why the soldiers were in the area, but Jamaica is currently under a curfew that runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. The measure, to contain the coronavirus spread, is being enforced by the military and the police.
INDECOM did not give a specific time but said that the incident “occurred in the late afternoon to evening of Sunday”.