In an emotionally-charged atmosphere, the body of acting Station Sergeant Newton Lewis lay in repose in a quiet Weymouth Police Sports Club today as hundreds filed past his casket for the last time,16 days after he was gunned down in his St Peter neighbourhood.
Clad in the ceremonial starched, white tunic and red sash of his Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) the sight of the body of the slain officer drew tears of those overcome with sorrow as they paid their respects to the officer who was killed as he responded to a report of an attempted robbery in Rose Hill where he lived.
Many could not back hold back the tears, while there were whispers of “life is not fair”, as people reflected on the tragic circumstances of the death of Station Sergeant Lewis, the personal driver of Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith.
Members of the judiciary, current and former police officers, relatives, friends, and members of the public filed past the blue-grey casket of the officer whom many described as a gentleman and “a good man”.
Even before the three-hour official viewing started at 3 p.m. scores were waiting in line to go through the required COVID-19 protocols, before being allowed to get a glimpse of the 46-year-old officer.
His father Anthony Lewis appeared composed and engaged those who approached him to extend their sympathies. He told Barbados TODAY that even though he was sad knowing that his son would be laid to rest tomorrow, he felt a little comforted seeing how peaceful his face looked as he laid in the casket.
Several of Lewis’ relatives were so overcome with grief that they had to be taken away from the location while some of his colleagues, after viewing his body, were wiping away tears.
“Life is not fair. This is just not fair to Newton,” one woman whispered as she walked away from the casket, her eyes brimming over with tears.
Winston Coppin, who lost his policeman son last year, said though he did not know Lewis personally, he came out to the viewing to show his support to members of the RBPF because of the circumstances under which he died.
“I think this is a way of showing the police that members of the public are behind them,” Copping said.
Former police officer David Collymore who left the force in 1979 said he did not know Lewis, but from what he heard about him, “it seems as though he was a very nice guy”.
Police Public Relations Officer acting Inspector Rodney Inniss said that on Tuesday a military funeral will take place at Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens, Pleasant Hall, St Peter before Lewis is laid to rest on the Casuarina Lawns.
Inniss said roads in the area will be closed to traffic from 12:30 p.m. to prepare for a parade which will start from Rose Hill, the general area where the incident occurred. The march will end at the chapel.
“We are not trying to inconvenience any of the drivers or road users. We will try to keep traffic going as much as possible and we want to emphasize that you should use alternative roads around that time. Social distancing is still part of our protocols so any person who is seeking to be there tomorrow remember we have limited numbers and there must be social distancing.
“We anticipate a large crowd. We know that all things taken into consideration, that Mr Newton lived in that area,” Inniss said.
The link for the live stream for the funeral will be made available to the public. (firstname.lastname@example.org)