JAMAICA-Bodies like cows or pigs, says witness
KINGSTON –– Witness John Green testified in the Tivoli Gardens Inquiry yesterday to seeing bodies piled in a truck during the May 24, 2010 operation to apprehend former area leader Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
Green testified that he saw the “truck filled with dead people” after police shot up his house on DC Tavares Avenue and took him and his stepson Andre outside their home. He added that at the time he saw the “whitish” truck, civilians were putting a body inside the vehicle.
“You know like when you kill cows and putting them in there?” Green said in his evidence-in-chief as he sought to explain what he saw.
Asked by commission lawyer Garth McBean, QC, if he could say how many bodies were in the truck, Greed said: “I couldn’t tell you how many bodies in the truck. But it come in like a scene when you kill cow or pigs and you throw them in the truck.”
Prior to that, Green said several shots were fired through his window moments after he stepped away and that the policemen who fired came to his house asking for the dead man. He said he counted about 25 bullet holes in his roof and other parts of the house.
“Why are they shooting at me? I wasn’t shooting at anybody. I’m in my window. Why they shooting at me? It makes no sense,” Green said.
Additionally, Green said that on five occasions, police and soldiers went to his house to take away his stepson, who was about 20 years old at the time, but decided against it after he objected.
The elderly man estimated the damage to his house at $111,000 and that he had already received $15,000 from the state.
When questioned by attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson, who is representing the Jamaica Constabulary Force, if residents were fighting against soldiers, he said the people of Tivoli would be suicidal to be fighting against the soldiers who are professionally trained.
He said he had never seen a gunman in the community, neither on May 24 nor prior.
According to Green, the police, who were assisted by the United States in the operation, could have captured Coke without violence as he was always in the community.
“Why they have to come and kill us off like cockroach?” he asked.
“It could have been easier,” Neita-Robertson shot back. “He could have turned in himself.”
Under cross-examination from Linton Gordon –– who is representing the Jamaica Defence Force –– Green said that he was not under a code of silence. Gordon had asked the question about the code of silence after he denied knowledge that Coke, his father Lester Lloyd Coke (Jim Brown), Jah T, and Claudius “Claudie” Massop were dons or enforcers in Tivoli Gardens or that the Shower Posse was based in the community.
Before Green gave his evidence, another witness, who did not wish to be identified and testified that he lost $12 million as a result of the operation, denied any involvement with thugs in the community.
He made the denial while under cross-examination by Gordon. The witness also denied that he had been using his building as a command post for gunmen, adding that he was not relaying information about the movement of soldiers and police to gunmen in Tivoli.
Asked by a lawyer for the Independent Commission of Investigations if he was affiliated with Coke in any way, he said no.
He had testified earlier to knowing Coke, however.
His mother also testified about the losses to the business. (The commission had asked that their names and image not be published by the media.)
Willis McFarlane, the 20th witness to testify, also gave evidence of his loss, which included a plyboard and zinc house, among other things. He said he had already replaced most of what was lost.