Tuesday 23 July, 2019

VIDEO: Family grapples with mystery death of woman in police custody

Forty-year-old Lorraine Morris sat at the front of her yard in the tough community of Jones Town in Kingston on Saturday, with a look of grief and shock on her face.

It was two days after she got the heartbreaking news that the body of her sister was found in the holding area of the Half-Way Tree Police Station in Jamaica, and still she was not able to come to terms with the news that she reportedly committed suicide.

“What them telling me can’t be true,” the weary-eyed woman told Loop News, her voice cracking up at intervals, as she repeated herself as if trying to convince her inner consciousness that what she was saying was not true.

“My sister would a never do that. She would a never kill herself and leave her two pickney them behind.  Nothing nuh guh so,” said the woman.

As she made the statement, she paused for a few minutes, fighting hard to hold back the emotions.

She fought hard to hold back the emotions not only because of how she felt after she got news that her sister lived her last moments like an animal gasping for air while hanging from the grill of a musty, smelly, rundown prison-like facility that is used to hold some of the country’s most notorious criminals, but also to hide her pain because of the reality that she never got a chance to tell her sister good bye.

“Even though me and her may have we disagreement at times, and we no talk, it pains mi heart to see my sister go in such a manner,” said the sibling.

“All now mi can’t come to grips with this. My sister was at her house good good, and the police just came and took her from her home saying they had a bench warrant for her. No one would have thought this would have happened,” added the sister.

A niece of the deceased woman said when the police came for Morris, there was no look of fear on her face, as if she knew that what she was being brought in for was a minor matter.

“She even joked to one of her neighbours when she was going into the police vehicle, that she would soon be back,” said the niece.

The promise was one that the now deceased woman would not fulfill.

The niece’s outline of the family’s perspective on the matter was captured on video, which is carried below.

The police, in a report, said Morris was arrested on a bench warrant and taken to the station, and was taken to the night court for her matter to be heard.

The family members said what the matter was about remains a mystery, as they have made several queries with the police, but have not gotten an answer.

The police said after Morris was taken to court, she was placed in a holding area at the Half-Way Tree station and left there for a short period.

The report said when the police returned to the holding area, Morris’ body was found hanging from a beam in the building.

Sources said she used piece of her clothes to tie around her neck and on a grill in the facility.

The explanation has left more questions than answers for the family members, who claimed that Morris was taken from her home at approximately 10:00 a.m. 

“The police took her from her home in the morning and are telling us that she was found dead in the holding area at around 5:00 p.m., but they never informed her family of her death until about 10:00 p.m.,” a relative stated.

“What makes it even more mysterious is that after we heard and went to the facility (station), we were told that we could not see the body to identify her,” said the niece.

Family members said when they queries what was it that Morris was brought to the station for, they were told that the documents with information on the charge against her could not be found.

“We even ask them for the names of the police officers who came for her and took her to the station, and we are still to get answers,” said the niece.

As a result, the family members said they are seeking to take legal action against the state for the death of their loved one.

At the same time, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has launched its own probe into the matter that they have described not as ‘suicide’, but as a death in custody case.

The family members said they will be closely monitoring developments in the case.

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