16 years later, a family still mourns

IN September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan howled by Jamaica leaving a path of catastrophe in its wake, 15-year-old Twanza Trench and her 4 siblings have been coping with one other storm of their very own.

Their mom, 45-year-old group activist Sandra Sewell, then a resident of August City, St Andrew, fell sufferer to a bullet from a soldier’s gun.Her dying was dominated an accident. Sixteen years later Sewell’s kids are nonetheless reeling from the ache, adamant that somebody have to be held accountable for taking away their solely mum or dad and hurling their lives right into a maelstrom from which they haven’t recovered.

“She went to a celebration and I heard the photographs. The subsequent factor I do know I bought the decision saying that my mother was shot. I began to race to the world and I used to be passing the police station [when] I heard… a soldier saying, “I needed to shot the b-i-t-c-h”. [At the time] I did not comprehend it was my mother he was speaking about. I went to the scene and so they instructed me she left. I panicked. I did not know what to do. It was onerous for me, I used to be 15; I turned an orphan at that age,” Trench recalled.

Trench was one in every of a number of people collaborating in a mirrored image on the journey of police oversight in Jamaica and the position performed by the Unbiased Fee of Investigations (INDECOM). The digital occasion was held earlier this week.

Whereas Jamaica has lengthy recovered from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan, Trench instructed the assembly that although she and her siblings had migrated they’ve been haunted by the trauma of their private storm, made worse as nobody can be held accountable.

“I blocked it out over time [in order] to not cope with the trauma, to not cope with the feelings. They mentioned she had a gun [but] it did not make any sense to me or my siblings. The tales that we heard was that she bought shot from the again. The report from the autopsy validated the witnesses’ tales; however the troopers, their story was completely different. They did not present a legitimate motive why she was shot, and I came upon… that her dying was dominated an accident.

How are you going to have a look at her kids and inform them their mother’s dying was an accident? What about us?” Trench requested.

She mentioned the ruling was an extra insult, compounding the inaction of the State.

“It was like nobody put an effort in to research… now we now have to cope with this ‘accident’,” she mentioned.

“Somebody must be held accountable. It’s important to be held accountable in your actions. This soldier was positioned on workplace obligation, I used to be instructed. I did not comply with up as a result of it was an excessive amount of. I used to be a baby, however over time I’m nonetheless coping with the trauma as a result of there are occasions after I discover myself in areas the place I want steering, I want assist and [my mom’s] not there. This soldier, he is residing his life, not taking accountability for what he did. She had 4 youngsters and we now have to fret about our psychological well being,” she added.

She defined how the traumatic occasion has colored different areas of their lives.

“What about my brothers? I’ve one which by no means handled the problem and he is now bipolar. As a result of within the Jamaican group it’s taboo [for men] to show feelings. I do not like troopers and it is due to my expertise. Are all of them dangerous? No. Nevertheless it’s what I skilled, and it is OK for me to really feel that manner,” she acknowledged.

Whereas it seems life has moved on for the soldier who allegedly pulled the set off, Sewell’s orphaned kids haven’t any such luxurious.

“What I heard that soldier say that day after I was strolling by isn’t one thing I can neglect as a result of he was speaking about my mother.

“She was killed from the again, she did not have a gun and he or she did not pose a risk to this man’s life. So how is it you could have all of your proof and nothing turned of it? It was an accident, so I ought to reside with that? It is an accident [so] it is OK?

“Effectively, it isn’t and they need to be accountable,” she argued.

In keeping with a 2004 Amnesty Worldwide Report, on September 19, 2004, members of the Jamaican Defence Power allegedly killed Sewell and Gayon Alcott, a 20-year-old footballer, in August City. Eyewitnesses mentioned troopers approached Alcott as a result of he was smoking marijuana and shot him within the abdomen. As he tried to flee the gunfire, troopers shot him once more. A soldier is alleged to have shot at Sewell as she sought safety from the gunfire.

“Sandra Sewell was killed immediately with a gunshot from a army rifle,” mentioned Derrick Pounder, worldwide forensic professional and professor of forensic drugs on the College of Dundee, who noticed the autopsies of Sewell and Alcott on behalf of Amnesty Worldwide. “The final circumstances don’t counsel that she posed a risk to the lifetime of officers on the time of the incident. She was shot within the again. Eyewitnesses say she was crouching down making an attempt to keep away from gunfire on the time. So there may be, on the face of it, corroboration of their statements,” Professor Pounder mentioned.

In 2007, throughout a coroner’s inquest listening to, a Jamaica Defence Power officer admitted to firing his weapon throughout the 2004 August City raid during which Sewell and Halcott have been killed. He mentioned he fired his weapon after Halcott aimed a Mac-11 submachine gun at him. The soldier was amongst a joint police/army patrol deployed to the world after a lethal gang conflict broke out between thugs from sections of the group referred to as Judgement Yard and Jungle 12. The soldier testified that he tried to apprehend Halcott however was unsuccessful after {the teenager} wrestled from his grasp, pulled the submachine gun from his waist and aimed it at him.

“I fired three photographs,” he instructed the courtroom.

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