Officer’s death raises questions

Jacqueline Jackson was an officer with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for nearly eight years, according to RCIPS officials.

But in the days that followed her 11 October death in a Miami motorcycle accident, there was no official notification from the department to the general public about what had happened. Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis said the department did send an internal notice to staff after confirming the officer’s death through Interpol and notifying her family.

Sources later informed the Caymanian Compass and other media outlets about the incident, but when contacted on 12 October a department spokesperson would only confirm that Ms Jackson was an RCIPS officer.

Officer Jackson’s funeral service was held Sunday, 21 October. According to attendees, many RCIPS officers were there. But the service was held as a traditional funeral, not as one sanctioned by the police department.

The handling of Ms Jackson’s death has raised some questions this week among the Caymanian community, and within the police service.

The seven-year veteran officer was not on duty in Miami at the time of the accident, and an RCIPS spokesperson said this week that Ms Jackson was on vacation from the department at the time the motorcycle wreck occurred. She was a passenger on the motorcycle.

Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, who was not on island when the Miami wreck occurred, said the RCIPS was reluctant to comment on Officer Jackson’s death due to the on-going investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

He also noted the incident was reported by the local press, including a front page story in the Compass on 15 October.

‘The statement regarding the circumstances of the officer’s death is well known, and is on the record, as it were,’ Mr. Kernohan said. ‘The bottom line is that this officer’s unfortunate death didn’t require… that a statement would need to be issued.’

Mr. Kernohan said the traditional funeral was also agreed upon by RCIPS and the officer’s family.

‘(It) was a subject of discussion between (the department) and the family of Constable Jackson, and it was decided that it would be a traditional funeral,’ he said.

Adding another wrinkle to the situation, the man who was with Officer Jackson on the motorcycle when it crashed was due to be in court 15 October in Cayman on theft and other charges.

Duane Steven Seymour had previously appeared in Summary Court 1 October for a first mention on a charge of theft of a car engine and gear box. He was also charged with handling stolen goods in connection with that theft.

Seymour denied those alleged offences, telling the court he had a receipt for the items. The theft was alleged to have happened on 24 March.

He also faced charges of carrying an offensive weapon and threatening violence on that date, which were also allegedly related to the theft case.

Seymour told the court on 1 October he would plead to the weapon and threatening violence charges, but not on the theft and handling stolen goods charges since he said the numbers on the alleged stolen car parts did not match.

On 15 October the court was told Seymour had died in Miami. RCIPS officials said they did not know the nature of the relationship between Ms Jackson and Seymour, or what the two were doing riding a motorcycle together at 10pm along the Dolphin Expressway.

Without specifically referencing Ms Jackson’s and Seymour’s case, Commissioner Kernohan said there are guidelines regarding whom officers can associate with in their off time.

‘Police officers are in no way shape or form allowed within our code of conduct to fraternise or socialise with known criminals,’ Mr. Kernohan said. ‘It is out with our code of conduct, and where we have evidence and information we will intervene as an organisation to stop that happening.’

Mr. Kernohan noted, on an island as small as Cayman, some concessions would be made.

‘I realise there are cases where we have individuals that may have relatives with criminal convictions, and it would depend on what these criminal convictions are,’ he said. ‘Somebody charged with shoplifting or vandalism would probably be put in a different category than somebody charged with drugs crime or murder.’

The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident and awaiting toxicology tests on Seymour, who was driving the motorcycle.

Patrol Corporal Michael Roberson said it appeared no other vehicles were involved in the wreck, and that Seymour simply lost control while exiting the Dolphin Expressway.

Compass staffer Carol Winker contributed to this report.

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