Jamaica panel charges 3 more police with murders

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — An investigative commission that probes abuses by Jamaica's security forces said Monday that three more police officers in a central parish have been charged with murder, bringing the total number of accused law enforcers in the division to four.

Some three weeks after Constable Collis "Chuckie" Brown was accused of three counts of murder, the Independent Commission of Investigations announced that three other officers in Clarendon parish had been arrested and charged with alleged unlawful killings.

The suspended officers include Detective Cpl. Kevin Adams, who has been charged with killing four men between 2011 and 2013. All of the accused officers have had their initial court appearances and been remanded to custody.

In a late Monday statement, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said the force has been cooperating with the commission "since the beginning of these investigations."

At a news conference in Kingston, Commissioner Terrence Williams said the killings were reported as unsolved slayings involving civilians. But after receiving additional information "from a variety of sources" and investigating the cases, "what we have now discovered is there is a great reason to believe that they were indeed police-involved homicides," he said.

His agency suspects other incidents in Clarendon parish were reported as unsolved homicides involving civilian gunmen but could actually involve police acting as judge, jury and executioner. Investigators are asking the public to provide information about eight other incidents that resulted in the deaths of nine people, including a hospitalized man killed by a masked assailant.

Williams said investigators are reviewing cases across the Caribbean country of 2.7 million people, particularly when there is a pattern of officers being involved in more than one shooting fatality.

Allegations of police killings are chronic in Jamaica, where human rights groups have long asserted that a culture of impunity has given too many officers a shoot-first mentality. Residents of mostly poor neighborhoods regularly protest what they insist are unjustified killings by lawmen.

Last year, 258 civilians were killed by security forces in Jamaica — 39 more than the previous year in a country long troubled by brazen gangs and illegal guns.

Even with more than 2,200 fatal shootings by security forces between 2000 and 2010, only two officers have been convicted of involvement in wrongful killings. Police almost always claim that deaths caused by officers result from responding to gunfire.

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David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

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