The Public hearings of the Camp Street Prison riot Commission of Inquiry (COI) began this morning with inmate, Dwayne Lewis of South/West Cummings Lodge taking the stand.
Lewis, an inmate of Capital ‘A’ of the prison, recounted the horrific details of the commotion that took place on the day the first fire started (March 2) and how he managed to escape the blaze that claimed the lives of 17 inmates.
He was the first prisoner to escape from Capital ‘A’ into Division ”B and was taken to the hospital after he received burns about his body.
” The door was closed and then the fire started…I could not say how the fire started…it was started inside the division…it started at the middle of the division…I could not say why the fire started…after the fire started it smoke up the place …after the hole was broken and we apply for the water to control the fire…there wasn’t any water coming to the facility at that time…after that 6 cans of their gas was thrown into the building…it started to burn our eyes and skin…so we run to a small ventilated area and we (prisoners) start calling for help, but we haven’t got any response from outside…the fire eventually grow bigger and bigger and took over the whole cell causing some of the inmates to be badly burnt up…I eventually run to the front entrance calling for help the door was not open as yet…when I saw the hole in the wall with some fire still blazing and I escape through there where I received burns to my lower abdomen…and I came out in the Capital ‘B’ division and I walk down the steep and I fell down,” Lewis recounted.
Questioned about the efforts of the Prison administration to assist those who were badly burnt, Lewis responded “none of these service was present at this time sir…I was the first person to escape from that building…about 25 of us…was taken to the front gate…I didn’t see any by the administration sir.”
Continuing his testimony, Lewis said the hole which he escaped through was approximately 5″x5.”
He spoke also of harassment by the prison warden, while the inmates scrambled through the confusion, “about 40 something prisoner was ask to come out …there was a certain officer who was harassing the prisoners…hitting them with this thing call baton…well I saw one of them was hit to an unconscious stage “Collis Collision”…he was hit by the prison warden them that was harassing them in the yard…by beating them…”
Lewis told the Commission’s Chairman that several prisoners were prevented from leaving “the first set came out and they escorted them where they wanted to put them… “all who don’t want to come out leff them there let them die.”
He said at the time of the incident there were 71 prisoners in Capital ‘A.’
Lewis was incarcerated for manslaughter and has served 8 months in prison thus far. February 19, 2016 Lewis was committed to stand trial in the High Court.