Protesters scatter

SPERSED: Protesters scatter after police fired tear gas into the crowd on Wednesday at Woodford Square in Port of Spain. —Photo: Andrea De Silva-Viarruel

All police officers whose weapons were discharged during an incident that left three men dead in Morvant two Saturdays ago are to be placed on administrative duty.

The Express understands that this decision has been taken regarding “all” officers who would have fired their weapons during the encounter in which Morvant residents Noel Diamond, Israel Clinton and Joel Jacobs were killed.

“As it pertains to the incident of the three persons being killed in Morvant on June 27, the COP is awaiting the initial report, findings and recommendation of the PCA before any action is taken. However, with immediate effect, all police officers whose weapons were fired in that incident would be placed on administrative duty,” the Express was informed by a senior police official.

The action came yesterday shortly after a statement from the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) yesterday, expressing concern with increased police killings and calling on Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to suspend the officers involved in that encounter.

The association had called on Griffith to “take immediate steps to identify those officers who were involved in the shootings and, without making any determination as to guilt, send them on administrative leave so that the investigations may proceed without hindrance”.

In a scathing rebuttal following the LATT’s statement, Griffith advised that if the organisation wanted to see a reduction in police shootings its members should “tell their clients to stop being in possession of illegal firearms”.

Protesters emanating out of East Port of Spain following the men’s deaths have demanded justice, accusing the police of persistent victimisation and of making the men the latest victims of extra-judicial killings. A 30-year-old Beetham mother of five, Ornella Greaves, was also fatally shot during the protests, sparking more cries of an uncaring attitude by the police towards so-called ‘hotspot’ communities.

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Griffith was not having the LATT’s remarks and has accused the association not only of being “agenda based” but also of being “more a lawyers’ association than a law association” .

“A Law Association cannot be exclusive to lawyers,” Griffith stated. “Most who speak in that Lawyers’ Association are defence lawyers for those who we, the police, arrest for breaking the law.”

Griffith called the LATT’s statement “illogical” and said a true law association would include all stakeholders of the justice system including police, judges, magistrates, and court administrators.

Instead, he dismissed the association as “just a voice who, on most occasions, spend their time trying to get those charged for crime to be released”.

“Had such an association included such relevant stakeholders, they would not have made the unfortunate mistake of them playing police by stating that the death of the lady in the Beetham was as a result of a police shooting?” Griffith asked.

He further questioned whether the association saw Greaves being shot by a police officer and also, “Do they know that others were firing shots in that area who were not police officers?”

Griffith further asserted:

“Did they see the video showing her on the ground and no officer was on site when it happened?”

The CoP stated: “I am not saying that it may not have been from a police officer but in the same manner, the Lawyers’ Association should not make irresponsible statements to say that it is.”

Griffith noted the process of investigation and advised the LATT to be so guided.

“Additionally, their logic to suspend every police officer on the scene in Morvant just because they were all there is highly illogical,” Griffith said.

Griffith went on to knock the LATT over its “concern” about police shootings, stating that “it is interesting to note that they do not voice their concerns about the increase in police officers being shot at, which is one every four days for the last five years”.

“But this lack of concern is obvious, when most held for shooting at our police officers are then represented by some of these same lawyers,” Griffith said, going on to advise:

“They want a reduction in police shootings? Then tell their clients to stop being in possession of illegal firearms.”

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