CoP: Police will not be distracted in search for shooting suspect

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

McDonald Jacob –

Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said the person who was willing turn himself in and assist in the investigation of the murder of PC Clarence Gilkes, should make contact with the nearest police station or use one of many other mechanisms for surrender.

Gilkes was shot dead while on duty during a police exercise on Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin on Friday.

Police say he was killed by a known suspect. The suspect and residents say Gilkes was killed accidentally by another police officer.

At a Ministry of National Security media conference on Sunday, Jacob said the police had received information from the man’s attorney about his intention to surrender peacefully.

In a report carried by Newsday on Sunday, the attorney, Criston Williams, said the man wanted to surrender in the presence of a third party, because his client was afraid for his life but that offer was rejected.

Jacob said, “On the night in question when I was in Rich Plain, that same question was asked and that the police was quite willing to organise. And I mentioned that the person with their attorney can call stations’ homicide department.

“Then I noticed that it raised its head again: whether or not the police is willing. Sometimes we have selective listening taking place because I indicated that.”

He said if the man was unwilling to go into a police station there were several numbers which he could call and would be assisted by selected senior police from the homicide department and the necessary arrangements will be made.

“This has been done on several occasions within the recent past in TT and most of the lawyers who are criminal lawyers also have the numbers for all the various regions of the homicide department and they utilise it on a regular basis. It is amazing to me that the question is being asked.”

Jacob said, however, the police were wary of offers to surrender being made by suspects or their attorneys as similar arrangements had fallen through in the recent past. He cited one occasion on which the suspect had failed to show after police had ended their efforts to find him based on an offer to surrender.

Jacob said that would not happen on this occasion.

“We have to be very careful. Even though they are making the request to turn in himself, our operations will continue with our leads and our search to arrest the persons who are responsible. We will not let those sorts of noise interfere with us.”

Jacob also urged the public to be mindful and careful in how and whom they assist in such matters because they could be held on the account of assisting offenders under the Criminal Law Act.

“Persons believe that by throwing up various aspects of investigation and their defences within social media can assist them when the time comes when whether they can be charged. We have to also be very careful with that and it is a bad precedence that is being set.

“Social media is not an extension of the justice system. In some instances when you throw up what you suggest is the person’s defence you might even make matters worse for them. It is something that we should desist from doing. But to get the sympathy of the population will not interfere with the police and their investigation.”

He added that pre-action protocol letters were also a tactic used as a deterrent or to sidetrack investigations, but the police will not be distracted.

Giles, 44, was with a team of officers from the Western Division Task Force on Rich Plains Road, Diego Martin, at around 3.21 pm when he was shot. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Reports said he was shot during a confrontation with an unknown number of men with high-powered rifles.