Andrew Morris

probe into death: Andrew Morris

Thirty-five-year-old Tumpuna Road, Arima, resident Andrew Morris was beaten to a pulp by police while he was being interrogated for the kidnapping of 23-year-old Andrea Bharatt.

Morris’ “criminal” record shows two marijuana possession charges in 2004 and 2006.

A Sunday Express investigation has revealed that on January 31, heavily armed Special Operations Response Team (SORT) officers des­cended on Morris’ Arima home. He was a Heavy T driver and car rental businessman.

Based on information from a 24-year-old suspect already in their custody, police claimed Morris was involved in the kidnapping of Bha­ratt, and the vehicle used in her abduction belonged to Morris.

Bharatt was kid­napped on the eve­ning of January 29.

Arriving at Morris’ home in a convoy of black and white hea­­vily tinted SUVs, SORT offi­cers proceeded to mercilessly beat an unarmed Morris in the front of his yard while interrogating him on the whereabouts of Bharatt.

Video footage seen by the Sunday Express contradicts statements by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, via a media release and media conference on February 3, that Morris immediately began to act violently when the attempt was made to arrest him.

“During his attempt to resist arrest, Morris re­­portedly fell on the ground and in so doing also caused an officer to fall. Morris continued to struggle with the officers and resisted efforts to subdue him,” Griffith said.

The video footage shows a bare-backed Morris exiting his home dressed in boxer shorts. He was instructed to lie face down on the ground with his hands at the back of his head.

He complied.

The footage, taken at a frontal angle, seen by the Sunday Express on February 10, shows SORT officers ceaselessly beating Morris while he lay on the ground, re­­­peatedly asking about the whereabouts of “the girl”.

The beating lasted over 45 minutes, during which Morris at times curled himself into a foetal position, with both his hands covering the back of his head.

At no time does he appear to offer any phy­sical resistance.

Another position sees him kneeling, a third position shows him lying on his stomach and another shows him lying on his back.

In all these postures, officers hovered over him, inflicting stomps and kicks about his body and head.

All the while, Morris is screaming at the officers, “I don’t know anything about the girl. I just rent cars.”

At one point, Morris lies on his sto­mach as he attempts to crawl, writhing, begging and screaming for the officers to stop, pleading he knew no­thing about “the girl”.

Instead, an officer in the footage is seen with a flat object in his hand which he slams onto Morris’ back, causing his entire body to jerk upwards.

He screams out, “Oh God, I know nothing!”

He lifts his head a little and pleads with other officers looking on for assistance. Another officer instead kicks Morris’ side with force. Morris screams.

The angle of the footage then shifts, showing a handcuffed man standing metres away from Morris.

The handcuffed man yells, “I pay you money from the girl yesterday, boy, Solo (nickname for Morris)”.

The angle of the footage shifts to Morris again who is lying on his stomach, “What girl you talking about, is money for the car? Officer, is a car business I have, he was owing me. I don’t know nothing about any girl (inaudible)....”

The handcuffed man yells, “Yes, boy, I pay you from the girl yester­day (inaudible).... Tell them I give you money from the girl.”

Morris: “You lying boy...what girl? Oh gosh, officer, he lying. I rent cars (inaudible)....”

Officer interjects, “Hello, you talking to us. I didn’t ask about cars. Where the girl?”

The officer kicks Morris’ side, saying, “We could go somewhere else and continue this, where the girl?”

‘Not that fella’

The footage goes blank and resumes with officers throwing a handcuffed Morris into the back seat of an SUV going to an undisclosed location.

During the afternoon period, police returned to Morris’ residence where they collected clo­thing for him.

Officers requested his phones, as well as phones of other relatives in the house, and took copies of car rental contracts.

On Monday, February 1, Morris was pronounced dead at 12.45 a.m. at the Arima Health Facility.

On Wednesday. February 3, relatives were told of his death when police officers from the Victim Support Unit visi­ted their home.

At a news conference on February 3, Griffith claimed Morris fell from a chair and died.

The Sunday Express interviewed several people affiliated with Morris, in order to obtain a clearer picture of the circumstances surrounding his death.

Speaking with the Sunday Express on February 11, Morris’ business partner expressed shock at his death, more so when he saw Morris’ picture on Thursday in the media.

“I bawled out saying, ‘Not that fella, he doh be in nothing’.”

The businessman said the car in question rented is a Nissan Tiida, PDH 8222, and not a Nissan Versa.

He explained the work-to-own contract requires a rental fee of $900 per week and after two and a half years of payments, the person owns the vehicle.

However, should no payments be made in two weeks, a clause says the lessor would reclaim the vehicle.

The Sunday Express understands the vehicle was rented on or around January 14 to a 24-year-old Malabar man.

The partner explained he received a voice note from Morris on January 29, at 8.05 a.m., requesting that the Tiida be “shut off”, and he would send someone to retrieve the car once a location is found since he was heading to work.

The business partner indicated at 8.15 a.m., he sent Morris the car’s location, which was lati­tude: 10.630172; longitude: 61.287447; speed: 16.63; time: 21/01/29 —20:12; pwr: on; door: off; acc: on.

Voice notes were again exchanged, with speculation that the car’s GPS (Global Positioning System) had been tampered with.

At 4.31 p.m., Morris sent a voice message saying he was at home and the car had to be somewhere in Malabar.

On January 30, at 7.32 a.m., the partner said Morris’ messaged him again, expressing disbelief that the car’s GPS was in plain sight, allowing for it to be tampered with.

At 1.48 p.m., Morris said he would take back the car from the Malabar man and instead rent it to someone from Diego Martin.

Colleague: We worked together

In an interview with the Sunday Express on February 8, a senior ma­nager where Morris was employed confirmed he was on duty on Friday, January 29, and Saturday, January 30.

On February 11, one of Morris’ colleagues told the Sunday Express that Morris came to work on January 29 and they made deli­veries throughout the Endeavour area, finishing at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, January 30, they worked in the South (San Fernando) and finished “a little after five”.

“He drove home and I followed him. I then dropped him off at a house in Malabar where he went for his car from a guy,” the colleague said.

Mechanic: I made

recommendation

During an interview on February 11, the me­chanic who often interac­ted with Morris said it was based on his recommendation that Morris rented the car to the Malabar man.

“Morris did not know (name called). Is I who vouched for him. He has a brother who is also a mechanic, and I told him the youth needed some work,” he said.

Adding he had a conversation with Mor­ris during the week of January 25 whereby Morris “real (a)buse me because I recommended the man and he was holding me responsible since the man did not pay.

“I told him to shut down the car and he did. He told me at the time he was in work and sent the location of the vehicle (January 29). I went and the vehicle was not there. He told me he saw the car location on the phone, and I went back to the location but the car was not there.”

The mechanic said he took Morris to the home of the Malabar man, either Wednesday or Thursday (January 27 or 28 ), “so Morris could see where the man lived, but he (Malabar man) was not home”.

Last week, Negus George of Malabar was charged with Bharatt’s murder while his wife, Gi­selle Hobson, was charged with receiving sto­len items—a bank card, earrings and clothing.

Apart from Morris, 36-year-old Joel Balcon of Sangre Grande died on February 8. A release from the T&T Police Service (TTPS) said Balcon was arrested on January 31 in connection with Bha­ratt’s kidnapping, and tried escaping police custody.

The TTPS claimed officers “subdued” Balcon and he died.

The Police Complaints Authority, in a me­dia release, indicated it has started a probe into the deaths of Morris and Balcon.

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