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Trial Of Police Officers Begins At Supreme Court

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net THE manslaughter and abetment trial of two police officers charged in connection with the death of a father-of-six began yesterday in Supreme Court. Cpl Donovan Gardiner and Constable Tavares Bowleg, charged with the death of 28-year-old Desmond Key, sat in the prisoner's dock as prosecutor Linda Evans gave her opening statement and called the first witness to give evidence. Shatia Seymour, an eye-witness on the night of June 17, 2007, told the court her version of what transpired before Key was arrested and detained at the Grove Police Station. Ms Seymour said her car ran out of gas on Robinson Road near the then-closed Shell Service Station, and her brother-in-law Desmond Key pulled up in his Nissan Maxima to offer help. She said a police car pulled up shortly after and two officers, one of whom she identified as Tavaris Bowleg, got out and approached them, asking why they were on the service station's property. She said Bowleg asked the deceased for his name and chastised him when he did not give a proper answer. The officer inspected Key's licence plate and disc, and noticing suggestions of forgery, told the deceased he was going to be arrested. She said Key ran away but then turned back around, to show the officers he "could've gotten away" if he wanted to. He was handcuffed and placed in the police car before a third off-duty officer arrived on the scene. Seymour said she was questioned about her relationship to Key and explained he was her brother-in-law. Key was taken to the nearby Grove Police Station and after managing to restart her car, Seymour told Key's girlfriend of the situation before returning with her to the station, but they were denied access to him. During cross-examination, attorney Wayne Munroe suggested the incident did not transpire the way Seymour described. She disagreed, but when asked admitted that Key appeared to be drunk at the time. She insisted the deceased did not curse at police. Ian Cargill, the other defence attorney, questioned Seymour's credibility as a witness on the premise that she lied to the police about her relationship with the deceased. The witness admitted Key was not her actual brother-in-law but said she considered him as such, as she was in a relationship with his brother. Seymour said she did not consider this lying. Mr Cargill disagreed, saying lying to police without reason is always a criminal offence. When he questioned her version of events, Seymour admitted that "in some ways", the officers carried out the jobs professionally and respectfully. The trial resumes today at 10am in the Ansbacher House courtroom on Bank Lane before Justice Vera Watkins.

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