Some years ago I had occasion to write the following in one of my Herald columns. I later resurrected the column in a post on this blog called “‘Pronounced Dead’ Resurrected Three Years Later…”
What I wanted to talk about this week were the distortions of the English language one frequently hears and reads in local media reports starting with the much abused phrase “pronounced dead”. This term often appears in radio newscasts recounting police shoot outs where “shots were fired”, “the fire was returned” and then “the injured men” (rarely members of the police force) are taken to hospital, where “upon arrival” they are invariably “pronounced dead”.
I dig up all this now because of a really great story i read in yesterday’s Star in which a man declined to allow himself to be pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The police had shot the man, the man played dead, and as soon as he arrived in hospital with doctors in attendance, he sat up saying that not only was he alive but it was the police who brought him in who had tried to kill him! What worries me now is that he is in another hospital recovering from his wounds under police custody!
Read the following excerpt from the Star article for yourselves:
A man shot by the police and believed to be dead, gave the lawmen the shock of their lives when he ‘awoke’ at the hospital and accused them of trying to kill him.
The man who had been transported by the cops to the Spanish Town Hospital to be officially pronounced dead, surprised the doctors and cops when he opened his eyes.
Information reaching THE WEEKEND STAR indicates that the incident took place on Christmas Day in the ‘Old Capital’.
It is understood that the man had been shot earlier in the day in an alleged shoot-out with a police team who claimed that he is a known associate of the recently slain Clansman gang member, Navardo Hodges.
Furthermore, it is alleged that the man was shot and thought to be dead because he appeared motionless which led the lawmen to carry ‘his body’ to the hospital for a doctor to pronounce him dead.
However, after he was transported there, he opened his eyes and began to give his account of what happened, telling the doctor who had gone to the vehicle to pronounce him dead, that the police attempted to murder him.
THE WEEKEND STAR understands that members of the police party who travelled with ‘the body’ and medical staff alike were astonished and were shaken up at what they had witnessed.
An alleged witness informed THE WEEKEND STAR that the injured man told doctors that he was at home when members of the police team kicked-off his front door and shot him unhesistantly without asking any questions.
“The man seh the police kick down the door and try kill him, him affi fake him death or else dem woulda shoot him again,” the witness said.
The man was later transferred to another hospital for treatment under police guard.
smh. “…transferred to another hospital for treatment under police guard.” I sincerely hope the media will monitor the progress of this case. Otherwise no prize for guessing what happens next. Police killings are quite common here, and this was by no means the only such event to take place recently. Only yesterday another man was killed in Denham Town by the police. What disturbs me about the case of the latter-day Lazarus who was shot on Christmas day is that we don’t even so much as know his name.