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Feb 26, 2018

Did Humphrey Mitchell Have to Die in Dangriga?

Humphrey Mitchel

Police have another incident on their hands that is giving them a black eye. A forty-four-year-old resident of Sarawee in the south died on Saturday while in custody. Police picked up and were transporting Humphrey Mitchell when they claim he jumped out of the pan of the police vehicle. He landed on the pavement and was taken to the Southern Regional Hospital where he succumbed to head and body injuries. But was there police negligence in placing him in the pan of the vehicle when there was space in the cab? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A locus conducted by investigating officers attached to the Scenes of Crime Unit, places this police mobile in the vicinity of a fatal mishap along a stretch of road on Saturday afternoon.  Sarawee Village is just outside of Dangriga, approximately three or four miles within its outer reaches.  It is here that forty-four-year-old Humphrey Mitchel fell to his death after reportedly leaping out of the pan of a moving pickup while in the custody of several arresting officers.

 

ACP Chester Williams, Commander, Professional Standards Branch

“Dangriga police reported that on Saturday gone, they went to Sarawee Village where they detained one Humphrey Mitchel on the strength of a commitment warrant.  A commitment warrant is a warrant issued by the court where a person has outstanding fees or whatever and the commitment warrant is to tell the police to pick up that person and take him to her Majesty’s prison.  According to the police officers, on their way back from Sarawee Village, upon reaching mile three, on the curve that is there, the individual jumped out of the vehicle with a view to escape and apparently he did not clear the vehicle well.  He didn’t jump as far as he wanted to and he landed on his on the pavement.”

 

Brian Lamb

The last person to have seen Mitchel just prior to his demise was Brian Lamb.  He witnessed his neighbor being taken into custody from his home and place of business by the four policemen.

 

Brian Lamb, Neighbor

“When dehn come fi pickup ahn, he mi di get ready fi go dah town; usual thing with he, but di police dehn mi cohn approach ahn, two in di front and two to di back.  Two ah dehn from di back went in with him and dehn spend a while een deh and from deh maybe dehn come up to wahn understanding that how dehn wahn tek ahn and ker ahn da station.  So dehn gaan, same time wahn old man mi deh out ya di sihdown di watch everything.  And when dehn mi di go da, right pan di curve da then we sih wahn lee commotion.”

 

The impact of the fall, Mitchel hitting the ground at the speed with which the vehicle was traveling, resulted in him suffering grave injuries.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams

“That caused him severe injuries and as a result he succumbed later at the Southern Regional Hospital.  Now I will tell you that from investigations, yes, it would appear to us at this time that the individual did in fact jump 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.”

 

Village Chairman Derrington Ramirez was not around at the time of the incident.  News of Mitchel’s death comes as a complete surprise to him and other residents since the Jamaican transplant was well liked by many in Sarawee.

 

Derrington Ramirez

Derrington Ramirez, Chairman, Sarawee Village

“We never knew Humphrey would have been capable of doing something like that, you know, well according to what we hear, that he jumped out of this police vehicle, you know.  It’s a shock.  What doesn’t happen in a million years could happen in a minute, right, and it seemed like that’s what happened right.  So yes, it was a shock for all of us around here.”

 

The incident has raised numerous concerns about procedures involving the capture and transportation of persons by members of law enforcement.

 

ACP Chester Williams

“There were only three police officers in the vehicle with the one individual.  I really and truly did not see the need for them to have put him at the back along with one officer.  I believe that 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 negligence on the part of the police officers that they will need to answer to and we are looking at that to see how we will progress with the investigation.”

 

Despite Mitchel being somewhat lovelorn from a long distance relationship, the roadside watering hole, T&H Kool Spot, bears the initials of the couple.

 

Derrington Ramirez

“His girlfriend came after a couple years while he was here.  He introduced her and she was nice too.  Her name was Tavia, but she left, you know.  He was left behind, kind of little worried about her, you know.  As far as I know, Humphrey was a great guy.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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