The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has responded to a video widely circulated on social media of a driver fleeing from the police along Manning’s Hill Road in St. Andrew.
During the video, shots are heard, for which INDECOM has commenced an investigation into the discharge of firearm, with the full cooperation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). The weapons of the police officers have been submitted to the laboratory for testing and other investigative lines of enquiry are being undertaken.
INDECOM categorically denounces actions of motorists who intentionally place the lives of passengers at risk, as well as other persons along the thoroughfare. Such actions can be deemed as reckless, irresponsible and dangerous.
With regard to the action of police officers who discharge their weapons, while in pursuit of a moving vehicle, the Commission believes that law enforcement officers must display due regard and comply with the guidance provided by the JCF in their Human Rights and Police Use of Force and Firearms Policy.
The Policy states that:
“firearms will NOT be discharged at a vehicle; simply because it failed to stop for a signal at a road check, or to immobilize the vehicle”.
“Police should not fire warning shots. There are risks associated with the firing of such shots, which have the potential to cause unintentional death or injury. They may also lead a subject or other officer to believe that they are under fire,” the release said.
Members of the JCF will not, in normal circumstances, fire at or from moving vehicles, unless the circumstances are such where the life of an officer or member of the public is at risk.
INDECOM reiterates that the action of discharging a weapon, by police officers should always be viewed as the deployment of deadly force, and the potential for serious harm to others is increased, especially when movement is added. In 2019, INDECOM reported on Compliance with Use of Force Policies and referenced that though Use of Force Policies caution against firing at vehicles and the use of warning shots, they are two operational practices which still persist. The Commission urges the JCF to be more reflective of best practices and responsible in their duties of protecting the lives of the citizens that they serve.