Questions about I’Akobi’s death
ATTORNEYS Andrew Pilgrim (right) and David Comissiong (second right) speaking to Mandela Maloney, brother of deceased I’Akobi Maloney, as a friend and his mother Marguerita Maloney look on.
DID police officers engage in profiling when they encountered I’Akobi Maloney, a six-foot Rastafarian standing alone on a secluded cliff?
Was there some level of aggression or conflict between them and that Rastaman?
Was he pushed or was he trying to escape?
These were scenarios which attorneys for the Maloney family, Andrew Pilgrim and David Comissiong, submitted to coroner Faith Marshall-Harris during their addresses, when the inquest into the 23 year-old man’s death resumed in the coroner’s court yesterday.
They asked the coroner to reject the evidence of the two police officers Sergeant Wingrove Headley and Constable Anthony Walkes who were with Maloney when he allegedly jumped off a 50-ft cliff to his death.
Comissiong told the court that given that the police had received a report about a boat, a Rastaman and drugs in the area that it was fair to assume they went to Land Lock, St Lucy, “all keyed up”.
“They did not go there relaxed. They were not approaching him as if they were approaching some Sunday School boy. We don’t know what type of confrontation there might have been what type of aggression,” Comissiong said.
Calling the case “very unique”, Pilgrim also urged the coroner to reject the police officers’ evidence.
He said the court was presented with the difficulty that it only had the account given by Headley and Walkes. The problem, he stated, was that there was no support for their evidence.
He noted that the two officers wrote their statements 13 days after the incident and that they were identical down to the grammatical errors.
“They are asking the court to accept that their identical statements are purely coincidental and that is not acceptable. It is our submission that when people collude they do it because there is something to suppress. It casts certain aspersions on the quality of evidence… that they have an obvious interest to serve.”
He stated that while it was acceptable that police officers could discuss evidence they could not take one person’s word and make it their own.
And he asked the court to bear in mind that the two officers had also denied that they colluded.
Moreover, Pilgrim submitted that ideally a case such as this should have been investigated by independent parties and not by the police.
The attorney also found it “waxing strange” that none of the seven other police officers who were dispatched to that scene saw anything and that all of them were conveniently looking in other directions when Maloney allegedly jumped.
He added that the primary source of support should have come from eye witness Anthony Collymore but he too “looked away at the crucial moment”.
“This is of particular interest because Headley and Walkes are saying that he approached them and said he (Collymore) saw what happened,” Pilgrim contended.
In terms of the police claims that Maloney took his own life the lawyer asked: “Is it that this man went to Land Lock to take his own life and waited until he had an encounter with the police to do it? Is it that the police were in some way a catalyst to him taking his life?
Quoting from a document, a copy of which he also tendered to the court, Pilgrim stated: “Suicide should never be presumed but must always be based upon some evidence that the deceased intended to take his own life.”
“That has haunted me,” he said. “It seems to me that the sine qua non of I’Akobi going over that precipice was as a result of his encounter with the police. What is it that (presence) that changed the circumstance? Unfortunately we don’t know,” he stated.
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