THE information unearthed in yesterday’s Sunday Express exclusive report on the police killing of Andrew “Solo” Morris demands an urgent and independent investigation if Trinidad and Tobago is to lay any claim to being a country of law, order and justice.
To facilitate this investigation we call for the immediate suspension of head of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), who led the investigation into the kidnapping murder of Andrea Bharatt, as well as the team of officers who went to Morris’ home on the night of Sunday January 31.
We note that the constitutionally authorised Police Service Commission (PolSC) has consistently abdicated its responsibility to exercise any form of disciplinary control under its remit. Notwithstanding this, however, we refuse to accept that the PolSC will ignore the killing of Morris and the shambles of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s handling of the Bharatt case which ended with two dead suspects and a series of statements by the TTPS which are in conflict with emerging evidence.
We note that the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has launched an investigation into the deaths of Morris and prime suspect Joel Balcon. However, given the PCA’s dismal track record in securing evidence leading to prosecution in police killings there is little reason to believe that it is equipped to handle this case.
The Government must therefore engage external expertise to lead this investigation. It has the option of contracting the services of a special prosecutor as the George Chambers’ government had done in 1985-86 in appointing Desmond Allum SC to build criminal cases arising from the Scott Drug Report. Alternatively, it can adopt the approach recently taken in relation to the DSS case when the Government brought in two senior police investigators from the Royal Barbados Police Force who were sworn in as special reserve officers to give them the legal authority to act. While similar support was requested from Britain’s Scotland Yard it is not clear whether anyone joined the investigation. If the government could go to those lengths to probe the integrity of the police investigation into a financial matter then it should be even more eager to establish the facts surrounding the death of Morris, a seemingly innocent man killed in a blaze of blows by police officers and the apparent cover-up following the incident.
Almost everything about the TTPS’ handling of the Andrea Bharatt case requires investigation beginning with the deep involvement by SORT in a matter that should have been handled by the Anti-Kidnapping Squad which, being specially trained to investigate kidnapping cases, would know the critical importance of keeping all suspects alive and talking.
In the current climate of fear, with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith sending police officers to question private individuals disagreeing with him on social media, the biggest threat to finding out the truth is fear of police reprisal. With T&T now on the steeper side of the slippery slope, the PolSC, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister must move swiftly to rein in the state of emboldened police impunity.