In 2011, on Christmas day when Jayden was just four years old there was no Christmas cheer, joy or laughter in or around the small house which he called home. He lived there with his four siblings; three boys and one girl.
On that day, the person he was closest to, his mother died from a sudden heart attack. Jayden is now six and attends the Marchand Combined School. He spends most of his time in Arundel Hill, Marchand, sometimes staying in Ciceron with his Grandmother who has taken on the role of his mother, with minimum support from a father. Jayden enjoys doing the things most normal boys his age do according to his grandmother, including playing video games. It was while engaging his brother in one of those combative video games on the night of Friday February 1, 2013 that the sounds emanating from the video game via the television set were drowned by “live” gun-fire. Before you knew it, six year old Jayden had been shot in the left leg in his dwelling place at Arundel Hill. The shooter, a police officer in pursuit of a suspect in the neighbourhood.
Following the incident, there has been mixed reaction from persons in the community. Some have applauded the efforts of the police to curb criminal activity including the peddling of illicit drugs and robbery in the area which has been of growing concern recently. Others, particularly the family of Jayden are outraged at the actions of the police on Friday which led to the shooting of the young boy.
On Friday, the STAR visited Jayden and his grandmother at Ciceron as they made their way to the Ciceron Health Centre. Jayden, limping slowly on crutches smiled wryly as I greeted him and his grandmother. I accompanied them to the Health Centre and as the boy waited to be attended to, his grandmother spoke to me in less of an angry tone than she had expressed during earlier television news interviews. Her demeanor spoke more of frustration as I asked about her concerns.
“What I am really concerned about is the way the police did it and no one is coming to check for the little boy,” Jocelyn started by saying. I then asked her to take me back to the night of the incident and where was she at the time.
“The night that happened which was Friday night I was at work when they called me and tell me one of the boys got shot. I was like F***ing call the police. F***ing call the ambulance. Because I did not really know what happened or who shot him. So I left work. I took a Gros Islet bus from Choc and I am walking and running to get to Arundel Hill when I got to town and I still met the ambulance when I got there. Because I was told when the little boy got shot the police left and went and called the ambulance,” she explains.
Composing herself she continued: “So when I saw the ambulance coming on the hill I stopped it and they ask me who am I. I said I am the boy’s grandmother. And then they ask me to hop in with the police. “When I went into the police vehicle I asked the officers what happened there and it was all silence. Then I said how nobody answering and then the officer in charge of the squad will
tell the other officer to tell the lady what happened. Then he was like they saw a
suspect and the suspect pull the little boy by him. I did not reply but I asked myself what was Jayden doing outside at that time? But when we arrived at the hospital I went
inside casualty and I asked him what happened and he said he was there playing games inside the house and the suspect ran inside the house to jump through the window and the police fired a shot at him.” She then paused before adding expressively; “the little boy saw who shot him. He said he saw the officer appear by the door and just fired.”
This is the part which bewilders the grandmother, the fact that an officer would just open fire in a home after a suspect without first ensuring that no one else was
inside or in danger. “I am not saying that the police shot my grandson deliberately but I am concerned about how they could just open fire like that in a house. I am now concerned about my little boy who was just there playing with his older brother. It could have been him, or one of them could have been shot and killed,” she told the STAR.
After last Friday’s incident, the grandmother told this reporter that the
next time she was in contact with the police was Monday morning. “An officer came to pick us up at my house to bring me to the hospital. It seemed to me like he was vex or
something like he had an attitude. I was expecting that they would wait for us,
ensure that we were taken care of at the hospital, but they just dumped us there and left,” she says. She told the STAR that she never knew who the officer was until, when alone with her grandson, he revealed that it was the same officer who had shot him. It came across to us as perplexing that the same officer would be allowed to be in contact with the family instead of being de-briefed and possibly offered some form of counseling.
During our interview Friday, the grandmother also told us that since Monday, no one from the RSLPF had visited her. “I did get a call on Wednesday from the officer in charge at Marchand police station enquiring about the medical bill from the hospital but I told him I do not have one, that I left everything at the hospital,” she stated.
“What do you want from the police and the authorities?” I asked.” I am just
really upset and shocked that a police officer can just go in some place and fire his gun.
That’s what I am really vex about. And the little boy saw him. The police I am sure saw the children but he was in haste. Right now I want them to take care of my little boy. Every-day I have to carry him to the health center. He cannot walk. I do not have a ride. We have to be paying transport and no one is doing anything for us. Right now he is not even at school,” she said breathing heavily.
The frustrated grandmother, who admits to having had one visit from a counselor for her son from the education office in Entrepot, says she is contemplating legal action against the police.
Asked about the incident during a press conference on Thursday Police Commissioner Vernon Francois said that the matter is being investigated. “From what I know the family was taken to hospital by the police. The police officer from the station visited them. I personally had put plans in place to visit the family but from newscast when it came out that they were moving in the direction of legal action I did not want to get involved and interfere with anything that they may choose to do. It is a very unfortunate incident and anything from a police department that we cando we will be happy to do,” Francois said.
He went on to paint a picture whereby the crime situation at Arundel Hill had gotten out of hand.
“We were responding to our duties as police officers. We were asked that there is a situation at Arundel Hill that needed to be dealt with and even members of the media have been complaining that things at Arundel Hill were getting out of control. So what is the police dong about it? However if during the course (of what happened Friday) something has gone wrong we need to be fair at look at all the circumstances.” Contacted by the STAR again on Friday the CoP promised to visit the family on Friday and assured us that the matter is being thoroughly investigated.