The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has confirmed that it has launched a probe into the circumstances behind the death of a 19-year-old male of a suspected heart attack over the weekend while being reportedly pursued by police officers who were enforcing the ongoing nightly curfew nationally, in Montego Bay, St. James.
The teenager, Carmichael Dawkins, had been in the company of one of his friends. The two youngsters had gone to downtown Montego Bay on Saturday to do some shopping, but had reportedly found it difficult to get a taxi to get home before the 8pm curfew began.
“They were in downtown Montego Bay at about 7pm, but couldn’t get a taxi. They were trying to rush home, so Carmichael decided to go to the friend’s home first and then grab a taxi home. They were walking along Jarrett Street when some officers pulled up, asked them some questions and left. Then a new set of officers came up and asked them questions, and then told them to ‘run’,” Kerry Ann Dawkins-Ricketts, an aunt of the deceased told Loop News of her understanding of what transpired.
“The police started to drive them down with baton until my nephew collapsed. He (is believed to have) had a panic attack. He was not used to that (kind of) treatment, is a young man don’t even talk patois. The police didn’t even carry him to the hospital, they waved down a taxi and told the taxi man to carry them to the hospital; the friend went with him,” she further suggested as having occurred.
Carmichael was rushed in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital, but later died.
His friend who shared the experience later recounted the disturbing story to the family, including Carmichael’s father, Michael Dawkins.
“My brother is devastated. He hasn’t stopped crying since Saturday. I took him to the doctor for him to get medication to calm him down, but he is not taking them. He is taking it very badly. This is his one son, his first, they were like best friends. He has a daughter with his wife, but they are separated. I don’t know how he is going to get over this one. The police dem too terrible. The friend say they were laughing when they were driving them down with the baton,” she said.
Carmichael Dawkins when he graduated from Cornwall College.
Over the last few days, there have been a number of videos circulated on social media with security personnel, some police officers, forcing people breaking curfews to perform humiliating and sometimes potentially dangerous activities as punishment for being in violation of the curfew order.
Dawkins-Ricketts said she made a formal report to INDECOM, as well as a report at the Freeport Police Station.
Carmichael Dawkins was employed at a local call centre before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a work furlough, and he was at home over the last few weeks before going to meet up with his friend in downtown Montego Bay. He was a graduate of Cornwall College in Montego Bay.
“He was a soft-spoken kid, he had so many dreams; he wanted to be a computer technician. He was healthy as far as we knew it, and for him to be snatched from us so cruelly, this is heart-breaking,” said Dawkins-Ricketts.
An autopsy which was scheduled for April 21 has been postponed since INDECOM launched its investigation, the Dawkins family said.