A member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is being accused of shooting an innocent resident of Linstead in St. Catherine and fabricating a story about him being in a confrontation with law enforcers.
The civilian, Phillip Hylton, better known as Gold Teeth, a vendor by profession, is battling for his life in hospital.
On Christmas Eve, a policeman shot him three times in the busy Linstead town where several people had gathered to observe Grand Market – the biggest shopping day of the year.
In a press release Christmas, the JCF said Hylton “allegedly attacked another man with a machete” and “was shot and injured during a confrontation with the police”.
The JCF added: “The injured man (Hylton) remains in hospital under police guard.”
However, Hylton’s relatives who visit him in hospital said there is no truth to report that their loved one is under police guard at the medical facility.
They also stated that, based on reports they got from eyewitnesses, the police’s version of what transpired is wrong.
They said Hylton was not the one carrying a machete on the night of the incident, but instead had a piece of board while running away from a machete-wielding man and his cronies. In effect, they are claiming that the police shot the wrong person.
The relatives making the claim are the gunshot victim’s brother David Morris, sister Sarnlana Blackwood, and mother-in-law Cordella Perkins.
Reflecting on what seemingly caused the sordid episode, the family said Hylton completed vending on Christmas Eve and returned home.
His brother-in-law’s girlfriend reportedly asked him to visit her vending area in Linstead and pick up her tent and a music box.
It is said that, when Hylton went to the vending location, he did not see the woman who had requested his help.
After waiting for some time, Hylton started to remove the items.
A male vendor reportedly from Spanish Town was not pleased with removal of the music box.
He “rushed down on Hylton with a ratchet knife,” Hylton’s mother-in-law claimed.
She further stated that persons intervened and quelled the situation, but that calm did not last.
Three men, including the one who brandished the ratchet knife and another armed with a machete, reportedly ganged and beat Hylton.
“Three of them rush down pon him (Hylton) and beat him. The whole a him stomach black and blue. When him get away and run off with a piece of board, a policeman bus a shot in the air. [Hylton] put him hands in the air and the police just start shoot him,” the mother-in-law said, based on information she said she received from eyewitnesses.
She added that one of the shots hit Hylton in the chest area, one in the belly and the other in one of his legs.
The family is also claiming that, when Hylton fell to the ground, he stayed there for some time apparently because he was believed to be dead.
“The police eventually throw him in the jeep back and circle the town before dem carry him to Linstead [Public] Hospital,” the sister of the wounded man said.
Hylton was transferred to another medical facility where he underwent surgery. He is unable to talk and eat independently, his crying mother-in-law told The Beacon.
“Mi jus hope and pray that him pull through,” she added.
Morris, brother of the gunshot victim, said it is particularly disturbing that a police officer fired shots in a crowded area and wounded his brother who was running for his life.
“The guy was running for his life”, Morris said emphatically, adding that he is among people who visited his brother in hospital. “To say my brother is at the hospital under police guard is not true. The police said he was armed with a machete; that also is not true.”
In the meantime, the wounded man’s sister, Blackwood, told The Beacon that her brother is hard-working and is not a troublemaker.
“The police dem a tell lie,” she said. “Wi need to talk to the bigger heads… My brother nuh live that way; him nuh harass nuh police. I am not looking for this with any of my brothers; they don’t live by the gun and dem nuh suppose to get shot by the gun.”
The relatives added that, based on information they received, the shooting was done by an officer based at Bog Walk Police Station.
They said, after Hylton was shot, the men who beat him fled the area leaving their goods behind.
The matter is being investigated by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), which probes cases of alleged abuse by agents of the State.
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