INDIAN WALK RESIDENTS DENY MOBBING POLICE
Residents of Indian Walk, Princes Town took umbrage to being dubbed criminals following reports that they mobbed Princes Town CID officers in order to protect an alleged gun-toting criminal on Tuesday morning.
At Cumoto Road yesterday, where dozens of residents had reportedly surrounded the officers who tried to arrest a 42-year-old mason the day before, residents accused the officers of fabricating the story after a blunder was made by a young officer.
A woman whose husband was identified by police as the armed suspect, said he was targeted by the officers before. However, she said although he had chopped someone in his youth and was charged for marijuana possession when he was caught in a vehicle where someone was smoking a spliff, he was no criminal. The woman said they went to meet the superintendent at the Princes Town Police Station yesterday, but were told he was not there. She plans to make a report to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) next week.
“They are wrongfully accusing us of attacking the police and they wrongfully accuse my husband of having a gun. This is a peaceful community where nothing much happens. If you look at the video of the incident, you would see that none of us attacked the police and we were there talking to them. I wanted to know why they shot at my husband, my husband is a hard working man,” the woman said.
Police reported that they were driving along the road when they saw the suspect on the roadside. They claimed they stopped and attempted to search the suspect when approximately 40 residents converged around them. While he was approaching the officers, a gun reportedly fell from the suspect and another resident picked it up and ran off.
But residents yesterday told the T&T Guardian that the mason was standing on the roadside around 9.50 am with his work bag containing his tools and lunch waiting for transportation. When he saw the police with their guns he reportedly ran to the bushes and a young officer fired two shots. It was when they heard the shots that many of the residents walked out to the road and confronted the police.
“The officers who came out of the vehicle were in plain clothes and they did not identify themselves as police. They pulled out their guns and the guy dropped his bag and ran, the residents claimed.
“The officer fired two shots at him. Two of the officers gave chase and the other officer took up the bag and brought it to the road and emptied it. They took out the man’s food, trowel and float. When residents heard the shots they came out and the officers came out of the bush.
“The altercation started there because we were telling them that they shot the man and left him in the bush. We did not know if he got shot, but they did not hold him. We as concerned residents told the officers to go look for the man, but they did not.”
But the officers claimed one resident began inciting the crowd to pick up pieces of iron and wood to attack them. The officers claimed when they tried to arrest the second suspect, he resisted and the mob engaged the officers.
Sitting under a shed yesterday, the second suspect said there were no residents seen holding any object in the video shot by the police. He admitted to resisting arrest, saying he did not trust the police and feared he would have received a fake charge.
Secretary of the Police Social Welfare Association, acting ASP Anand Ramesar, said yesterday that attacks against the police by residents seem to be a growing trend. As a result, he said police must now analyse and determine what are the triggers and how to mitigate against such incidents.
However, he said there must be no tolerance for people obstructing police in the execution of their duties and such offenders must be swiftly arrested and brought before a magistrate. He said the behaviour acted out by the Indian Walk resident could have resulted in injury or loss of life to officers and the public.
With the stress the officers face in such situations, he said they must be commended for the high level of restraint exercised during the latest incident.
In a similar incident yesterday, police were attempting to arrest a man at Beetham Gardens, Laventille, when residents ran into road and surrounded the officers.
Using profanity, the residents threatened to attack the officers, who quickly took the suspect away in their vehicle.