3 cops detained in PC Gilkes homicide probe

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PC Clarence Gilkes

Three police officers were detained by the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) on Friday as investigators wrap up the probe into the death of PC Clarence Gilkes who was shot dead on April 22, at Rich Plain, Diego Martin.

The three officers, who were last assigned to the Western Division Task Force, were among 12 officers who responded to a report of men armed with rifles in the Rich Plain district. They are being represented by attorney Israel Khan SC, Ulric Skerritt and Arissa Maharaj.

They were expected to be questioned under caution at the PSB’s head office, Matco Building, Henry Street, Port of Spain on Friday.

Investigators are expected to consult the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether the evidence supports any criminal charge.

Bloodstains near the spot where PC Clarence Gilkes was shot on April 22, at Richplain, Diego Martin. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Four police officers, including Gilkes, approached Jehlano Romney on a flight of steps, and some started shooting at Romney, who was unarmed, according to investigators.

Gilkes was shot in the neck by an officer behind him and in the ensuing commotion Romney ran away.

The shooting incident was first reported as an attack on police officers and Romney was blamed for Gilkes’ death.

Over 100 officers responded in search of Romney, who was described as armed and dangerous, in the hills of Diego Martin, Carenage and other areas.

Acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob, who arrived at the crime scene dressed in camouflage fatigues, was first briefed by officers of the task force and later by head of the division Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson.

In response to questions from the media that night, Jacob said criminals had declared war on the police, which accounted for the significant police response.

Romney managed to elude capture by hiding in a cave and later made his way to Venezuela by boat. He later surrendered to the PCA and gave a detailed, recorded video statement before being interviewed by police. He has reported threats and acts of intimidation to the PCA during the police probe by officers of the Western Division.

After an autopsy revealed it was a police bullet that had killed Gilkes, the acting CoP suspended three officers, including a woman, pending the outcome of parallel investigations being done by the Police Complaints Authority and the PSB.

Former head of the Western Division Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson presentss the police flag and a portrait of PC Clarence Gilkes to the officer’s widow Cindy Sin-Leong at Gilkes’ funeral on April 30. -Photo by Jeff K Mayers

Last month, the PCA said in a media release it had concluded its investigation into the matter and found the worst case of police abuse and a deliberate attempt by officers to mislead Jacob. It made recommendations of serious criminal offences against the officers to Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC.

The PSB’s probe, led by ACP Joseph Chandool and Snr Supt Suzette Martin, has been liaising with Gaspard.

In response, Jacob intends to transfer some of the officers accused of wrongdoing, Newsday has learned.

The head of the division was initially sent on leave and later transferred to the Transport and Telecom Branch.

The development comes on the heels of the eight police officers being charged with murder over the June 27, 2020 killing of three men at Juman Drive, Second Caledonia, Morvant.