A parent should never outlive his child, but this is the situation in which deejay Spragga Benz has found himself.
The death of his 17-year-old son, Carlton ‘Carlisle’ Grant Jr., has been a hard pill to swallow.
Grant was killed on Saturday, August 23, by police under what is believed to be questionable circumstances.
The incident occurred on Church Street during an alleged patrol by the police. It was reported that Grant and a friend were riding a bicycle when ordered by the police to stop, which they did. It is also alleged that one of them pulled a gun and fired at the police. The fire was returned and the men ran. The area was searched and Grant was found suffering from several gunshot wounds.
Now Grant’s family is left to mourn a talented youth’s early death. Spragga was off the island when he heard of his oldest child’s death and he returned immediately to take care of his family. When THE STAR spoke to a tired and sad-sounding Spragga, he said that upon hearing the news of Grant’s death, he said a silent prayer for his son.
Describing his family as a close-knit one, Spragga was very close to his son.
“A mi eldest son, a mi eldest child. There was a point where is just me and him. Him modda have him cause him exam just finish. Him live wid me all him life and did just deh wid him modda a hold a vibes,” Spragga said.
Grant had just finished fifth form at Camperdown High School and had completed seven subjects at the CXC level.
Before his death, Grant was an aspiring actor, who had been in the movie Shottas, and was set to look at other scripts. According to Spragga, he encouraged his son’s desire to be an actor but made sure that he finished school so that he would have something to “lean on” in hard times.
“Mi have too much memories. Every day was a joy. He was basically a yute whe him just deh bout wid di younger ones. His best friends are between 12-13, so yuh know seh him playful … Mi nuh waan paint di picha and act like him is a saint. Him is nuh saint. He is a yute weh when mi was his age, mi do di same things … Him have it harder cause him have a fadda weh everyone know, so him face being my son – the good, di bad and di indifferent. People who don’t like me, don’t like him; who like mi, like him,” Spragga said.
Memories of his son
After Grant’s death, Spragga received calls from friends who shared memories of his son, describing him as a “calm yute” who treated everyone as an equal. That included his younger brothers and sisters who are still grappling with what happened to their carefree brother.
Spragga explained: “We try to be as strong as possible. Di eldest sister still shook up, still cry every day. Di younger ones, are like five, six, still a ask bout it. Dem just a get a understanding and dem waan write a song bout him.”
While most would cling to their remaining children, Spragga still believes in making his children tread their own path, giving them space to grow up. While he may be angry about the nature of Grant’s death, for Spragga, there are no feelings of revenge or retribution in his heart. Yet, he still has to deal day to day with disparaging comments made by the police.
“More time police a seh some stupid things and den a go laugh … Yuh haffi wonda where di professionalism in di force deh … What is police? A police force, or just a force …?
Nuh condolences and sympathy
“Don’t come offer mi nuh condolences and sympathy because when dem a come to me and tell mi bout me shoulda look afta mi son, yuh don’t know … Mi grow my son personally, and him was more educated than most on di force. Mi talk to him teachers and principals personally to see if he was on top of his performance and progress, behavior, his involvement, everything, mi nuh mek my children go a school an do wha dem feel like. Probably if I was a parent like dat it would be a different ting,” Spragga said.
According to Spragga, his fans and the entertainment community are upset about what happened and has shown him their support.
“Him is a yute weh know people. People from a wide cross section, dem a wonda wha a go on but a offa mi strength. Dem waan change di system not for Carlisle but for everyone to raise di awareness of wha di yute dem a face, try mek awareness for all di police dem so dem don’t just judge di yute dem just like dat,” he said.
Singer Marcia Griffiths, who has recently experienced something similar, has been one of the entertainers who have stepped forward in support of Spragga. The two plan to form a lobby group to speak against the brutish behaviour of the police force.
Spragga is currently taking the legal route, hiring lawyers and investigators. According to Spragga he is doing his best in believing in the system as he accepts that nothing can bring back his son but he wants the truth to come out.
“Mi have faith in di system still for all of wi sake, every Jamaican, because nuff people dis happen to but not everyone can really go through to find out wha really happen and target out to di law. ‘Cause a lot of tings get box up and painted and yuh neva find out di real reason. Now wi waan see the transparency of di system towards di Jamaican people, towards yutes, ghetto people who probably don’t have a voice,” he explained.
“Mi a tink bout being an independent citizen weh mi nuh haffi talk to government cause dem a move like dem nuh business wid people…. Mi a explore it caw dat mi waan be, cause nobaddy accountable to me, or nobody nah deh pon mi side inna di system a just me and mi frens who care, or people who feel di same sentiment.a wi haffi go an investigate to find out di truth a weh happen.
Spragga says he has also been tormented by the knowledge that police brag about killing his son. “Dem nah show nuh interest but mi nah go gainst dem cause mi kno yuh have good people inna di force but mi just nuh like di attitude, where man a come beat di chest like him a Bolt, that’s a disrespect to di families who are distraught dem need to apologise fi dat too.” Spragga said
As for his career he is trying to not let his personal affairs interfere with his artistic side, acknowledging that his lyrics will be under a microscope for any references made to Carlilse’s death.
A memorial service for Carlisle was held last night on Harbour Street. However the funeral service will be delayed until after an autopsy is done on the body. The autopsy on Grant’s body is currently scheduled for October, 2.