One more plea
Jahan King’s paternal grandmother makes fresh appeal for justice
It’s been 93 days since six-year-old Jahan King died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) amid claims that he was a victim of abuse. And while the police have been quoted as saying he died from chest trauma, Barbados TODAY can now confirm the official cause of death.
For the first time ever, the boy’s family has made the death certificate available to the media, with Jahan’s paternal grandmother Ena Brown giving Barbados TODAY exclusive access to it. The official document reveals that the child died of blunt chest and abdominal trauma.
Brown has again called on Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith to give an update on the investigation of the child’s death. The foster mother of Jahan’s father, John King, told Barbados TODAY that she was making a final public plea for someone to be charged with his killing and demanded to know the reason for the delay in the investigation.
Brown said she has tried without success to contact the police officer who has been assigned the case since the investigation was launched following the autopsy conducted on July 7, and she wondered whether the case was being swept under the carpet because the Child Care Board (CCB) was “partially to be blamed”.
“What is the hold up with this case? It is because the Child Care Board is partially to be blamed that it ain’t getting anywhere? The police wasting time because Child Care Board involved. What more evidence dem need?” she asked.
Jahan died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 29 after arriving there with his mother, Lasonta Gill, around 12:15 a.m.
Both Gill and her boyfriend Dwayne Marshall were questioned by the state-run Child Care Board after it was reported that Jahan was being abused at their Jackson, St Michael home. They were also questioned by police after the child’s death, and released.
Holding her head, the tired-looking Eden Lodge resident who took care of Jahan before he went to live with his mother, said as far as she was concerned “the police got all the evidence dem need”.
“What else dem want? If they do not deal with this case properly, if Justice is not served for that innocent child, then other innocent children will die like this and nothing will be done about it. I just don’t understand what is going on,” she said.
Browne said it appeared to her that the police have been doing a better job investigating other unnatural deaths that have occurred since Jahan’s passing, bringing the perpetrators before the law courts.
“I ain’t want nobody to get lock up or charged unfairly, I just want justice for Jahan. Dem can’t see I just want justice for Jahan?”
Meanwhile, Jahan’s 33-year-old father has also demanded to know why no one has been arrested in connection with his son’s death. King returned here late August, one week after the boy was buried at St Leonard’s Anglican Church, after spending time in a Canadian jail.
He told Barbados TODAY law enforcement officials were not doing enough to solve the case.
“I honestly feel that more can be done with the investigation,” King said in an exclusive interview.
The acting Commissioner of Police was quoted in early August as saying that the autopsy report had shown that the boy had died from chest trauma. He also indicated that police were continuing investigations into the death, which has become the focus of national attention, particularly after his maternal grandmother Margaret Gill contended the boy had been abused, seemingly by his mother and her boyfriend.
The commissioner said that a critical part of the investigations included a report from the Principal Beverly Parris of Lawrence T Gay Memorial Primary School, which Jahan attended. Barbados TODAY understands that report has been submitted.
In mid-August 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 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 after a first complaint by Brown.
He emphasized then 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.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY on July 7, Lasonta Gill, 26, insisted that she loved her son, and he was not a victim of abuse. She also said at the time that the boy had suffered an asthma attack before his death, and defended her boyfriend, saying he never abused the child and that her son was always happy to be in Marshall’s company.
When contacted today, Acting Police Public Relations Officer Station Sergeant Roland Cobbler said he was unable to give an update on the investigation into the matter, before next Monday.