Probe into King's death will not be hurried
The top brass of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) today suggested the force would not be rushed into completing investigations into the death of six-year-old Jahan King who died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) on June 29, after he was rushed there by his mother Lasonta Gill at around 12.15 am.
Jahan’s death attracted national attention, particularly after his maternal grandmother Margaret Gill contended the boy had been abused, seemingly by his mother and her boyfriend Dwayne Marshall.
Gill had also placed responsibility for the boy’s death squarely at the feet of the Child Care Board (CCB), claiming the child protection agency had failed to act despite receiving several complaints about the alleged abuse. Photographs circulating on social media appeared to support the claim of abuse, with some showing Jahan with bruises and a swollen eye.
The state agency later refuted the allegation, with Chairman Kenneth Knight telling Barbados TODAY in a story published on July 8 that records obtained from a medical examiner revealed no signs of abuse. He attributed the bruises around the child’s eye to allergies, and said what was thought to be a broken hand, which later turned out to be a fractured finger occurred when Jahan fell while alighting from a bus.
However, acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith contradicted the CCB when he confirmed earlier this month that the autopsy report showed the boy had died from chest trauma. He also indicated at the time that police were continuing investigations into the death.
On Monday, Ena Browne, the foster mother of Jahan’s father, complained in a front page story carried by Barbados TODAY that these investigations were taking too long and questioned why no one had yet been charged with the boy’s death.
But Acting Assistant Commissioner responsible for Crime Management and Investigations Livingstone Eversley insisted the police had a responsibility to investigate the matter thoroughly in order to determine how the child sustained the chest trauma revealed by the autopsy.
“If you are carrying out investigations you can understand, and she [Browne] has been informed as to what we are doing. We are carrying out investigations. You must carry out investigations to get to the bottom of any problem or to find out what has happened,” Eversley said.
He emphasized that while the relatives’ anxiety was understandable, it was critical that the police get it right, and this could only be achieved through a thorough and careful investigation.
“For sure, once the investigations are completed, we will inform her as to what is going on, so that would help her in respect of going through the whole trauma of the situation,” the acting crime chief assured.
Both Lasonta Gill and Marshall were questioned by police and released. The 26-year-old mother told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview on July 7 that she loved her son, and he was not a victim of abuse.
She said the boy had suffered an asthma attack before his death.
“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 at the time.
She also defended her boyfriend, saying he never abused the child and that her son was always happy to be in Marshall’s company.
Jahan’s funeral is scheduled to take place on August 20 at St Leonard’s Church.