The family of 32-year-old Jimel Westney is shocked to know that he was slain while working as a correctional officer, considering that he moved into that profession because he thought it was much safer than the job he had before.
Westney previously was a Municipal police in the May Pen Market area of Clarendon. But he feared for his life and opted to quit.
“My son always complained that he doesn’t like the job [in May Pen] because some of the people in the market are too difficult,” said Merline Bryan, mother of the deceased.
Kaworna Latty, girlfriend of the slain officer, told The Beacon: “Westney was working in May Pen, but wasn’t comfortable taking away people’s stalls because he was afraid they would kill him.”
The girlfriend added that, based on information she received, the Department of Correctional Services accepted Westney after he made a third attempt to join the service.
He was among 78 officers who assumed duties at St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in Spanish Town on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
Six weeks into his new job – on November 13, an inmate allegedly used a makeshift ice pick to stab him. A photo sent to The Beacon shows the weapon lodged almost in the centre of Westney’s back.
He died at hospital on the day he was stabbed.
The tragic news sent shock-waves throughout several Clarendon communities, including the victim’s native Turner’s district in the Four Paths area of Chapelton, and his girlfriend’s community of Reckford in Kellits. His close relatives in the United States were also stunned.
BABY LEFT WITHOUT FATHER
In Reckford district, one-year-old Jimeilia Westney appears oblivious to the tragedy that has left her fatherless.
The victim’s girlfriend and in-laws struggle to come to grips with the homicide.
“I never expect that; it is very shocking,” said the crying girlfriend, who recalled the first time she met Westney in May Pen almost two years ago – exactly on November 21, 2018.
She said: “He was a nice person, quiet, humble, very helpful and friendly.”
Those adjectives were echoed by other Reckford residents, including the murder victim’s cousin-in-law Shaniace Turner, sister-in-law Kerine ‘Milly’ Latty, and mother-in-law Breneta ‘Carol’ Latty.
The mother-in-law said: “He (Westney) treat mi daughter good; he treat us good when him come here. He comes like one a mi son – a very nice young man. Mi miss him.”
She added that, had Westney not been slain, he would have done his usual driving to Reckford yesterday to visit his daughter and his girlfriend.
The in-laws told The Beacon that, whenever Westney is at Reckford, he gets along well with everyone and takes care of all the children – not just his own.
In the meantime, Westney’s mother, who is in the United States, is heart-broken.
“I am just heartbroken; I feel empty,” she said.
“I would rather that my son has the coronavirus and I could call him or visit him; I would rather that. Right now, I am broken to my bones… I thought my [seven] children would all bury me instead of me burying them. It is hard.”
The mother also spoke highly of Westney.
“He was a good child. I never hear him curse a bad word; I never see him goh to a dance. If he had anything to do on the road, he would go and do it and come straight back to his yard. He goes to work, comes home and nobody knows if he is at home unless you see the light on. I am not saying this because he is my child; I know the type of person he is; he is not a troublemaker,” the mother further told The Beacon.
Similar sentiments were shared by Kayon Clarke – a sister of the deceased. She and her late brother were born on May 6, albeit 20 years apart.
Westney is a past student of Beulah All Age School, Vere Technical, and Ebony Park HEART Academy – all in Clarendon.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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