Jungle justice denied
Slain trainee cop's mom was about to act when lawmen arrived at crime sceneFriday, November 19, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
WILLIAMSFIELD, Westmoreland — Mabel Forbes, the mother of trainee police Constable Duvaughn Brown who was shot dead in this community Wednesday night, said she was on the verge of meting out jungle justice on one of three men accused of killing her son when the police arrived.
Two of her sons had accosted the man at the crime scene, raining blows on him with a piece of wood they found nearby. Her calls for a machete, she said, went unheeded so she fetched it herself. By then police were on the scene.
“Mi stamp mi foot and say, 'Why unnu come so fast? Unnu couldn't wait five more minutes fi mi tek jungle justice fi mi son? Mi son lie down inna di road,” said the grieving mother.
Forbes believes her son's murder is linked to an earlier incident in which her goats were attacked by dogs owned by someone in their Nago Town neighbourhood. She alleged that one of the men who snuffed out his life is known to have a gun, while another had threatened one of her other sons on Wednesday morning, saying, “Mi nuh mek nuh duppy from 2021 and mi a go mek duppy.”
This is the third time the mother of six is mourning the loss of a child. One died in a traffic mishap while Brown is the second killed by gunmen after a disagreement, she said.
The 25-year-old trainee was assigned to the Manchester Police Division — one of seven across the island for on-the-job training. He had reportedly returned to Westmoreland with bearings for a block manufacturing machine and was trying to find a shop where he could sell the items. However, because of the nightly curfew, the two shops he went to had been closed.
About 9:55 pm, he was returning to his house when he was shot multiple times in front of one of the shops. He died on the spot. His mother said he was just a few weeks shy of graduating from the police academy.
Eking out her own brand of justice, she told the Jamaica Observer, would be the only thing that would help her cope. Imprisoning those responsible for her son's death, she said, would merely be a burden on taxpayers' pockets.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, during a tour of the area, told Forbes that two men had been taken into custody in connection with her son's death. Holness, who on Sunday announced states of emergency (SOEs) in seven police divisions across the island in response to rising crime, expressed condolence and apologised for the Government's failure to act quicker to prevent the killing.
“Before we put in the SOEs there were five murders the night before and we were tracking what was happening in Westmoreland,” Holness told her. “And we recognise that if we did not intervene the parish could explode. So we tried to act as quickly as we could. So I apologise; it is very, very sad that we could not have done anything more, in a quicker way, that would have probably saved your son, and I ask you to understand.”
He added, “When I heard the news this morning, I'd already planned to come here. Probably if we had acted a little bit earlier… maybe that fellow who you have now arrested, who is out on bail for a gun crime, maybe he would have been in custody now and would have not been able to commit the crime.”
Deputy Superintendent of Police Adrian Hamilton also reassured Forbes that the police are confident that two other suspects will be apprehended.
“He is one of our own who has died at the hands of criminals, and we just want to let you know that from an investigative standpoint the matter has been given priority,” said Hamilton. “As we speak, there are two persons that have been arrested. As you know, the police are strongly following the lead of two other persons, one of whom has been charged and is presently before the court on a related offence and has eluded police officers so far. We know that we will be able to apprehend him, and we know that our counsellors will be providing you with all the necessary support. We are here for you.”
Brown's death has weighed heavily on his neighbours. One man, who said the slain man was his daughter's godfather, broke down when discussing his close friend's demise.
“This community is a farming community. A fi wi community this. A suh wi live. Mi not even have a descriptive word fi put to it,” he said, the rest of his words choked off by sobs.
In addition to lawmen at National Police College of Jamaica in Manchester, where Brown was being trained, the wider Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) family has also been plunged into mourning. In a release yesterday, the JCF expressed condolence to those saddened by Brown's death and used the opportunity to urge its members to “remain vigilant at all times”.
Brown's is the third known killing in the parish since the declaration of the SOE. On Tuesday, two men were shot dead at a peace management training session at the Y's Menettes Resource Centre on Barracks Road.
Since the start of the year, Westmoreland has recorded more than 100 murders in comparison to the over 65 reported for the corresponding period last year.
— Additional reporting by Rosalee Wood