SaraWee Man dies while in police custody

Another person is dead after being in the custody of police officers. On Saturday February 24th, 44 year old Humphrey Mitchel died as a result of head and body injuries. According to police, they detained Mitchel in Sarawee Village on the strength of a commitment warrant and placed him in the pan of a police mobile. Police say that while they were escorting Mitchel to the police station in the truck, when they reached  mile three on  the Stann Creek Valley Road, Humphrey jumped out of the pick-up and as a result sustained head and body injuries..

ASP Joseph Myvett, NCIB

So on Saturday Dangriga police visited the home of one Humphrey Mitchell. 44 year’s Jamaican national of Sarawee Village, Stann Creek, in order to execute a commitment warrant for which he had owed the court some monies. He was then taken in custody after being showed the warrant and seated in the back of the police pick-up along with one police officer. While on his way to the Dangriga Police Station, while the vehicle was in motion, he jumped out of the moving vehicle in attempt to make an escape. However, he received varying degree of injuries and was immediately taken to the Southern regional Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment.

PSB’s Chester Williams spoke today about this incident as well.

ACP Chester Williams, PSB

Now I will tell that from investigations, yes, it would appear that the individual jumped out of the vehicle whether or not it could have been averted, the answer to that is, surely, yes. And those are things that I am looking into. One, per say, that they were only 3 police officers in the vehicle with the one individual and I clearly haven’t seen the reason for them to have put him at the back. I believe there was sufficient space in the cab area of the vehicle for the individual to have been transported to Dangriga in the front of the vehicle, meaning the backseat, and he could have been placed between two officers so in that instance I believe that there was some negligence in the part of the police officers that they will need to answer to, And we are looking at that to see how we progress with the investigation. I have inspected the body there at the morgue I went there I spoke to the doctors  who attended to him when he arrived and there is no signs of injuries to suggest that he was being beaten prior to but , further information will be gathered when the postmortem is conducted. Hopefully today or tomorrow. The investigation is still ongoing and we will see where it takes us as it relates to criminal Culpability, I really and truly do not see any at this time, but what we will do we’ll prepare the file and send it to the DPP and then she’ll decide how we’ll move from there .

While Williams says that so far his investigation has not revealed any criminal action on the part of the police, he did mention that a camera on the vehicle was not plugged in when it should have been.

ACP Chester Williams, PSB

Each of these brand new vehicles are equipped with camera system that records both forward and backwards and in this case the camera system for the vehicle was not connected so that is another issue, administratively, that we need to address to see why wasn’t it connected. And the officers concern will be dealt with as well because it is imperative on the driver of every vehicle or supervisor to ensure that when they get on board the vehicle they do proper checks to ensure that everything is working and what is not working must be reported. In this case the camera is working but they have plugged it out. Not, by them. It was plugged out from the 19th of February. It was not working so we need to address that to ensure systems are put in place that there are no re occurrence of officers disconnecting the camera whenever they feel like disconnecting it. It must be kept recording at all time.

Chester Williams said that the incident will force the police department to look at  reviewing procedures as it relates to transportation of prisoners.

ACP Chester Williams, PSB

We’ll really and truly have to review our procedures administratively as to how we transport prisoners this is Heinz site it is 2020 and in this case we surely can see where we can make some adjustment in terms of how we deal with persons who are being transported to the police station .

We also got a chance to speak to Mitchell’s cousin who told us that Mitchel was always busy working.  He had a small shop in Sarawee Village where he used to sell food and drinks. According to the cousin, who we spoke to off camera, when she heard the account that Mitchel jumped from the vehicle, she was shocked. She asked why he would jump when all he owed was $80.

Niece of Humphrey

It was definitely a shock to me because Humphrey was not a person that was really known to the law side for criminal activities or anything like that he had a small problem and he owed the court 80$ and that’s what they picked him up for there is no other re ason for the police to come and pick him up only for that. He was an ambitious person he had goals he just started to buy some parts for his vehicle and went to pay his light bill on Friday, he bought a new phone I mean someone who is doing that never had the intention to take his own life my question was why he would jump out of a pick-up truck. He worked on this road on this highway when they first started paving he knows that this road is dangerous he always advise me to move from off the road why would he jump.

According to the cousin, Mitchel was not resisting arrest and was not even handcuffed since he was cooperating with the officers

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