By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
TWO police officers in plain clothes did not identify themselves moments before one of them shot and killed a teenager in the Bain Town community almost 10 years ago, a lifelong friend of the deceased testified yesterday.
Ryan Fernander said former Sergeant Trevor Green and Corporal Ricardo Rolle did not say they were officers when they approached him, his cousin, and the deceased, Bradley Newbold as they sat on a wall at Hospital Lane in November 2010.
Instead, all Mr Fernander said he heard was the order “don’t move” from the two men who came “out of nowhere” and who were wearing plain clothes.
“I didn’t know who it was, I didn’t know what to expect. I just stood there,” Mr Fernander said.
Newbold though, opted to flee, something Mr Fernander said he found to be “somewhat” strange at the time. Nonetheless, he said despite there being rumours at the time that Newbold had a gun, he did not see a gun, and neither did he see Newbold brandishing a firearm.
Mr Fernander’s testimony came during the third day of an inquest into 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.
His death sparked utter chaos and anarchy in the Bain Town community, events that would eventually come to be known as the “Bain Town riot”. Police officers and their vehicles were said to have been stoned by members of an angry mob and at least one car was set ablaze. Even news reporters covering the riot were said to be harassed by the angry mob.
So chaotic was the “Bain Town riot” 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”, and neither was an internal police inquiry.
Former Sgt Green, now a teacher employed by the Ministry of Education, previously testified how on the date in question, he and Cpl Rolle, while on foot patrol on the area, approached three young men sitting on a wall, identified themselves and proceeded to search them in reference to firearms or drugs.
However, the former officer said after one of the men, who turned out to be Newbold, noticed the police badge pinned on his left chest, he jumped the wall and ran. Mr Green said Cpl Rolle, gave chase, and he followed suit.
During the foot chase, which Mr Green said lasted no more than a minute, Newbold clutched his waist and withdrew a black, Kel-Tec 9mm Luger pistol and aimed it at Cpl Rolle and himself. Mr Green said Cpl Rolle told the man to drop the weapon twice, commands that were not obeyed.
Then, he said he heard two gun shots, and later saw when Cpl Rolle fell on top of Newbold on top of a cesspit. By the time he caught up to them both, Mr Green said Newbold’s breathing was “laboured”.
Mr Fernander’s narrative of events differed, however.
Taking the witness stand before Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez, Mr Fernander said on the date in question, he, his cousin, and Newbold were all sitting on a wall on Hospital Lane having a discussion when two men “came out of nowhere” from the direction of King Street.
Mr Fernander said the two men told them “don’t move”. He said he didn’t know for sure if they were police officers, but figured that based on how they carried themselves and how they sounded, they were most likely law enforcement.
Mr Fernander said he and his cousin obeyed the command and stayed put, but Newbold jumped over the wall and ran off.
Mr Fernander said the officers gave chase, prompting he and his cousin to move to a position where they could better see what was happening. He said at no time did he hear the officers giving any commands to Newbold.
During the foot chase, Mr Fernander said he saw when Newbold got shot in his back when he put his foot on a cesspit; he said he heard two shots, and though he couldn’t say if Newbold was shot twice, said he definitely saw when his friend was hit.
Mr Fernander said when Newbold got shot, that prompted both him and his cousin to go to him. However, he said as they approached, one of the officers spun around, pointed his gun at them both and told them to turn back or he would shoot them both.
Mr Fernander said he and his cousin, agitated, repeatedly asked the officers why they shot their “brethren”, but the officers kept telling them to go away or else they would be shot.
“After they told us to ‘go that way’, we asked them why you shoot our brethren? Why you shoot him? And they telling us ‘go that way, go that way before we shoot ya’ll. Hurry up, go that way,’” Mr Fernander testified.
Afterwards, Mr Fernander said he ran to the house where Newbold and his other family members grew up and told his friend’s grandaunt, who was selling food at the time, and told her Newbold had been shot.
Then, after going back to the yard and talking to his cousin, he said he ran to his home and told his family that Newbold had been shot. After that, Mr Fernander said he went on King Street and told one of his friends “bey, they just kill Marco (sic).”
Mr Fernander said him spreading word of Newbold being shot took roughly 30 seconds or so. He said he ultimately went back to the scene of the shooting, and after a short while, a white vehicle came and took the two officers he saw out of the area.
Mr Fernander said he was unable to accurately identify anyone in court as the police officer who shot Newbold given the amount of time that has elapsed since the shooting. However, he noted that it was the shorter of the two officers who shot Newbold, and said the officer looked like his attorney Bjorn Ferguson.
Mr Fernander said although he saw when Newbold got shot, he did not talk to any police officers except former Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade. And that conversation, according to him, was not Mr Greenslade seeking to get to the bottom of what happened, but more so him trying to pacify the unrest that erupted in the community.
The matter continues.