By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER police sergeant testified yesterday how an angry mob of Bain Town residents attempted to swarm him and his partner after the latter shot and killed a teenager in that community almost 10 years ago.
Trevor Greene said an unruly crowd of some 30 to 40 people, mostly young men, converged on him and Corporal Ricardo Rolle moments after 19-year-old Bradley Newbold was killed in November 2010.
So menacing was the crowd of people, Mr Greene said he was forced to grab the black, Kel-Tec 9mm Luger pistol Newbold was carrying and tell Cpl Rolle they would have to stand back-to-back to protect each other.
Mr Greene said rather than secure the area, both he and Cpl Rolle were forced to leave Newbold’s body because the angry crowd continued to swell in size and press in on them both. He said when police assistance arrived, “everything got out of control” and he and Cpl Rolle left the area.
“It was no longer safe to be there,” the former senior officer said.
The testimony came during an inquest before Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez concerning Newbold’s death at Cpl Rolle’s hands on November 20, 2010.
According to Forensic Pathologist Dr Caryn Sands, Newbold died of two gunshot wounds to the torso. According to press reports at the time, Newbold’s death sparked utter chaos and anarchy in the Bain Town community. Police officers and their vehicles were said to have been stoned by members of the angry mob and at least one car was set ablaze. Even news reporters covering the riot were harassed by the angry mob.
So chaotic was the incident that former Member of Parliament for Bain and Grants Town Dr Bernard Nottage subsequently called for an independent public inquiry into Newbold’s death. At the time, Dr Nottage, now deceased, said referring it to the Coroner’s Court was “not good enough,” nor was even an internal police inquiry.
Taking the witness stand yesterday, Mr Greene said sometime around 12.10pm on the date in question, he and Cpl Rolle were on foot patrol in plainclothes in the Bain Town area. At that time, they were walking west on King Street, approaching Hospital Lane. Cpl Rolle pointed out three men sitting on a wall on the western side of Hospital Lane.
Mr Greene said he and his former partner approached the men and identified themselves as police officers, and told them that they were going to be searched for firearms or drugs. After doing so, Mr Greene said he stood back, with his right hand on his waist, as Cpl Rolle conducted the search.
Mr Greene said one of the men, wearing blue jeans and a light-coloured shirt, glanced at his police badge, turned around, jumped the wall and ran.
Mr Greene said Cpl Rolle jumped the wall and gave chase, and he followed. Mr Greene said when he got to the back of the house, and as he turned the corner, he saw the young man clutch his waist, then extend his hand from his waist in Cpl Rolle’s direction. Mr Greene said when the man’s hand was almost fully outstretched was when he noticed a black pistol.
Mr Greene said after seeing Cpl Rolle headed directly towards the pistol, he then drew his service revolver because he feared that his former comrade would have been shot. At that point, Mr Greene said he heard Cpl Rolle say “drop it” to the suspect. Mr Greene said fearing for his own life, he aimed his service revolver towards the suspect.
At that point, the former officer said he heard a single shot. Fearing that Cpl Rolle had been hit, Mr Greene said he ran even faster towards the other officer. While doing so, he said he noticed that the suspect’s weapon had dropped on the ground. However, he said the suspect stopped running, picked up the pistol, and then continued running.
Mr Greene said the suspect again pointed the pistol towards him and Cpl Rolle. According to Mr Greene, he was running behind his former colleague and the suspect the entire time. He said Cpl Rolle ordered the man to drop the weapon a second time, but the suspect instead continued to point the weapon in their direction.
Then, Mr Greene said he heard a second shot. A few seconds later, he said he saw Cpl Rolle fall on top of the suspect while on top of a cesspit.
Mr Green said the entire chase lasted between 20 to 30 seconds, and certainly no more than a minute.
He said as he caught up to Cpl Rolle and the suspect, he noticed that the suspect’s gun had dropped on the cesspit next to his right hand. Mr Greene said because he didn’t think Cpl Rolle saw where the gun dropped, and fearing that the suspect might have retrieved the gun again and shot Cpl Rolle, he ran as fast as he could to reach them.
Mr Greene said when he managed to catch up with them, he grabbed onto the back of Cpl Rolle’s thigh to aid him in slowing down, and whilst training his service revolver on the suspect, slid to a stop, released his grip on Cpl Rolle’s pants and latched onto the suspect’s right arm to prevent him from grabbing the gun lying next to him. Mr Greene said he subsequently knocked the gun away from the suspect’s arm.
Mr Green said at that point, he noticed that the suspect’s breathing was “laboured”. He said Cpl Rolle indicated that he was okay, and so he holstered his service revolver and contacted police control room. He said he told police control room what had happened and requested both EMS and police assistance. He said he also transmitted the serial number of the suspect’s pistol to his colleagues.
Mr Greene said while he and Cpl Rolle waited for EMS personnel and police backup to arrive, and while looking around, an irate group of some 30 to 40 people, mostly young men, came from “every direction” shouting and cursing. Fearing that he and Cpl Rolle would be mobbed or run over, and not knowing if those people were armed with knives or guns, he grabbed the suspect’s gun and told Cpl Rolle that they would have to stand back-to-back.
Mr Greene said as the crowd continued to thicken and advance towards them, he told Cpl Rolle that they would have to move from the suspect’s body. He said he then slipped the gun to Cpl Rolle discreetly and told him to put it in his pocket to secure it. Mr Green said he did so because in the event they were shot at, Cpl Rolle, being the fastest, would have been able to escape with the weapon.
Mr Green said about 15 to 20 minutes later, an ambulance and police assistance arrived. But by that time, he and Cpl Rolle had already moved from the suspect who was being “crowded by just about everybody who was around there.”
Mr Green said Cpl Rolle handed the gun the suspect was wielding to another officer before “everything else got out of control” and he and Cpl Rolle left the scene.
Meanwhile, Newbold’s aunt, Tamara Seymour, said the last conversation she had with Newbold was her scolding him the day before he died for not removing some shingles off the floor of a residence in Sunshine Park where he stayed. At the time, she said Newbold, a former employee at Milo B Butler & Sons Wholesale, was in “perfect health”.
She broke down and cried loudly in court when shown a picture of the deceased in court for identification purposes, causing the coroner to take a five minute recess and a family member to console her while in the witness box.
According to Ms Seymour, Newbold’s parents died when he was young; his mother died when he was seven years old and his father when he was only three. As a result, she said she served as a mother-figure to him and his two younger siblings.
“When he died, a part of me died,” she said.
The hearing continues.