Gunmen from Grants Pen, who went into Tivoli Gardens to defend Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in May 2010, had their lives snuffed out by the very man they went to defend after demanding part payment for their service, the Tivoli Enquiry heard yesterday.
Superintendent Everton Tabannah said the information was given to him by a woman inside Tivoli Gardens after members of the security forces took over the area in May 2010.
The police had said that 300 gunmen were in Tivoli Gardens in May 2010 to defend Coke, and that the former strongman was paying up to $100,000 each to his hired guns drawn from across the island.
Tabannah testified that the woman told him she was glad that the security forces were there, because “their presence” had put an end to the “stupidness” that was going on the community.
According to Tabannah, she reported that the men from Grants Pen were promised a payment of $50,000 each to defend Coke and that the men were killed after demanding part-payment.
However, when Tabannah started to give evidence of this, commission Chairman Sir David Simmons interrupted and pointed out to Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) lawyer Deborah Martin that this was not in the senior cop’s statement.
“I’m suspicious of this evidence. I’m suspicious,” Simmons said at one point, and added later that the evidence doesn’t sit well with him.
During Tabannah’s relaying of his conversation with the woman, Simmons asked him to give her name and address, but he said he didn’t take her name and doesn’t know her address.
He, however, noted that he had told now Assistant Commissioner of Police Winchroy Budhoo and other senior officers about what the lady had said.
Later in his evidence, Tabannah said the woman had asked him not to make known her name.
On another note, Tabannah testified during questioning from William Panton, one of the lawyers for the Office of the Public Defender, that the shooting which took place in Tivoli Gardens on day one of the operation, on May 24, 2010, was “judgement”.
He said he and his men were “hoping and praying” that the Jamaica Defence Force commander in charge of the company tasked with taking Sector 1 of the community from gunmen didn’t call upon them that night.
“What we heard happening over there, it must be judgement. I’ve never experience judgement, but what he heard going on over there must be judgement,” he said in relation to the heavy gunfire taking place in Tivoli Gardens.
He also denied a suggestion from Panton that he left important information out of his statement to cover the illegal actions of his men during the operation.
“Nonsense, Sir,” Tabannah, snapped. “Nothing like that.”
Tabannah said it must have been an oversight why he didn’t include the information in his statement.
The senior cop had earlier testified before the enquiry that he never received any report that his men had murdered any civilian in Tivoli Gardens.
He said the only time his men fired their guns was at the train line along Industrial Terrace when they came under fire from gunmen in Rasta City.
He testified that his men didn’t even return fire when they were pinned down for two hours on May 24, 2010 on McKenzie Drive.
He told Linton Gordon, a lawyer for the JDF, that his men had no clear view of the community combatants so they could not return fire.
Tabannah testified earlier that his men came under heavy gunfire and couldn’t enter Tivoli Gardens despite the soldiers saying it was safe to get in.
He said they tried to go in minutes after 5:00 pm but had to pull back to the Tivoli Gardens High School after being pinned down by gunmen for a little over two hours.
He said shots were being fired all night until the early morning of May 25, the day he and his men were able to enter Sector 1.
Meanwhile, Sergeant of Police Steve Waugh testified, on May 25, that a removed of bodies were removed that could be those of men who had been shooting at the police.
Waugh testified that the bodies were found behind sandbags and barricades, and close by them.
He said he couldn’t recall how many bodies were picked up from these areas.
The sergeant said he picked up 12 bodies that day, some of which were in a state of decomposition. He said no bodies were taken from houses or yards in the community.
Source | Jamaica Observer