Jahan King’s mother breaks her silence on his death
The mother of six-year-old Jahan King, who died in the early hours of Monday June 29, has broken her silence on her son’s untimely passing.
Lasonta Gill, 26, said her son was not a victim of abuse, adding that the boy suffered an asthma attack before his death.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY last night, the young mother said she had been receiving abusive phone calls, and was being derided on social media by a public that did not know the facts surrounding the child’s passing, yet were accusing both her and her boyfriend, Dwayne Marshall, of killing her son.
The grieving and emotionally devastated Gill said she loved her son with all her heart and would have never abused him or allowed anybody else to.
“Nobody is taking the time to ask what really happened. Right now I am confused, scared. Sometimes I don’t want to go home because I don’t feel safe at home. People threatening you, people breaking into the house since that happen and steal the things in the house; family members coming at the house vandalizing the house. Different things going on,” she complained.
Following the death, Gill and Marshall, with whom Jahan lived at their Jackson, St Michael, home, were questioned by police and released. The young woman said this was a difficult process, confessing that she had never been in trouble with the law.
She said her son was not troublesome, and she never had any reason to beat him, explaining that she often found “minor alternatives” to corporal punishment if he did anything wrong. She also swore she had no reason to believe that her partner abused Jahan.
“Not [to] my knowledge. I never saw him [Dwayne] abuse him. Nothing like that. He [Jahan] never complained for abuse,” she said.
The bereaved Gill said she has hardly slept since her loss, and she did not know what to do, where to go, who to turn to, or who to trust. Among those she could not trust is her mother, Margaret Gill, who told Barbados TODAY last week that the child was the victim of abuse.
The maternal grandmother also put the death squarely at the feet of the state-run Child Care Board (CCB), which she said was made aware of Jahan’s situation, but did nothing to help the boy.
Closing her eyes for a moment, and talking in a clear tone, Gill challenged the accuracy of her mother’s accusations.
“So why when I call her to keep him, why she never use to come? If it was abuse in the home, why not help? Why wait until he is dead now to say something about it? If it was abuse in the home help from the beginning.
“When you call she don’t answer. Furthermore she says, ‘she got to go out, she got to go work, she working night’ . . . and the only person that was ever there to keep Jahan was my boyfriend. No family members, none of them would want to keep him,” the reserved Gill said.
She spoke of a happy child in Marshall’s company greeting her when she arrived home from work, and lamented that her boyfriend was upset by the allegations that he abused the child.
“Right now he is regretting that he keep him. Everybody pointing fingers saying that if it is not me, it would have to be him. The same people that don’t want to help [are] the same ones that pointing the fingers saying that is what happened.”
Gill explained that on Saturday June 27, after her son complained that his tummy was hurting, she gave him some sweetened water to help settle his stomach. She said he felt better the following morning but showed signs at lunchtime that all was not well when he did not complete his meal, and asked to take a rest.
“When I went and check on him, I see he was gasping for breath so I called the ambulance for him. The ambulance got there in less than ten minutes, [paramedics] examined him, [and said] ‘yes, he wheezing’ and carried him to the hospital. I was at the hospital from 12:30 that Sunday afternoon.”
While not revealing the results, Gill said the doctors ran several tests to find out what might have brought on the asthma attack and vomiting. Hours later, the boy was dead.
Photographs circulating on social media showed bruises and marks on Jahan’s body that suggested signs of abuse. Armed with medical reports, the mother said things were not what they seemed.
She explained that bruising to his left eye was the result of a fight at school, and that a fractured hand resulted from a fall while alighting from a bus in the company of her boyfriend.
“So we went to the hospital and they took an x-tray and they say, ‘nothing looks like it is wrong with the hand’ but they say that he is a child and children bones don’t heal like adult bones. So what they are going to do is treat it as a fractured injury. So they put on a cast on it and as you could see, they took it off on the 26th of June,” she said, providing a medical certificate to support her case.
Gill contended that the photographs, particularly those showing Jahan’s swollen face, were taken by her mother in April after the boy was stung by a centipede. She argued that none of the pictures represented his physical condition at the time of his death, neither were they an indication of a prolonged period of abuse.
Gill also presented a certificate dated April 22 which showed that Jahan was examined by a medical practitioner and diagnosed with suffering from insect bites.
“I rubbed something on it and the school saw it but the principal didn’t like how it looked and she called me, but didn’t get through to me so she called my mother and my mother took my son to the Child Care Board.
“The lady at the Child Care Board told me I need to take him to the doctor and bring him back. I took him to the doctor, he got examined, he got medication and everything and I took him back,” she explained.
Throughout the interview, a soft-spoken Gill repeated that seeing her son’s belongings around the house was difficult.
“It’s really hard,” she said, taking a deep breath.
She smiled once, when she described her son as a cheerful, peaceful child who loved watching television, and who did not like going out to play because like her, he did not mix and mingle too much. However, she said, he was a talkative child.
“He would come home and show you different things he did at school. He would come home and tell we everything that the teacher said.
“He would come home and say, ‘my teacher showed me how to count, how to do this, how to do that’. He didn’t hide anything from me.”
A clearly distressed Gill said it was tough coping with the loss of a child, while facing public derision, and pleaded with her family to provide solace.
“No one is actually there to give me comfort. No one is there to ask how I am dealing with the situation. Everyone is just against me and it is really hard.”
The grieving mom also defended the CCB from allegations that it was neglectful, saying she met officials of the institution twice, the second time on June 26, and they were satisfied that there was no abuse.
“The lady even send me to the doctor to bring back a medical report. So if my son was in any harm, they would have taken him the same time,” she said.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY over the weekend, Ena Browne, the foster mother of Jahan’s father, John King, said she told the elder King that his son had died from an asthma attack, but did not mention the reported abuse.
King, who is in a Canadian jail, sent a moving, apologetic, handwritten letter to be read at his son’s funeral.
“John knows me, he knows the kind of mother I was to his son; he knows that I would never hurt him or put him in harm’s way,” Gill declared.
Interview with Lasonta Gill: