SHOT DEAD: PC Clarence Gilkes. –
THE ex-suspect in the shooting death of PC Clarence Gilkes has officially reported to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and the Homicide Bureau that police officers tried to kill him.
A barefoot Jehlano Romney was picked up in San Fernando by PCA officials on Wednesday night and handed over to police early Thursday morning. He was in the same clothes he had on since the shooting incident on Friday last at Upper Rich Plain, Diego Martin, and was in dire need of a bath, his attorney Criston Williams said.
Romney was given a KFC meal by the PCA and was taken to hospital for a foot injury which he sustained while running through the hills of the northern range to escape officers.
After speaking with the PCA, he was taken to the Homicide Bureau office at Riverside Plaza in Port of Spain at about 1 am.
Asked about the arrangements for Romney’s surrender, PCA director David West said he did not want to speak on that issue and was just happy Romney was safely in police custody.
Gilkes, 44, was shot during a police exercise with other members of the Western Division Task Force. He will be buried on Saturday. Gilkes’ colleagues claimed he was shot by gunmen in the area and a manhunt was launched for Romney who they said was the main suspect.
Romney, in a voice note shared on social media, proclaimed he was innocent and was being framed. He said Gilkes was shot by one of his colleagues.
This was rejected by acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob who, on the night of the incident, said Gilkes was shot from in front. He said the shooting was an act of war against the police service.
An autopsy done on Tuesday concluded Gilkes was shot in his neck from behind. Information on the type of bullet has not been made public.
After the autopsy, police said Romney was no longer considered a murder suspect but a witness who could help in their investigation.
Police public information officer ASP Sheridon Hill said a senior officer has been appointed to investigate the incident with the Professional Standards Bureau having oversight.
He said the officers on the exercise were not obligated to go on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation. They have given statements and their guns have been submitted for ballistics testing.
During the police weekly media briefing on Thursday, Hill said he could not say if the officers had on body cameras.
He said the units which have been given body cameras are the Emergency Response Patrols, Highway Patrol Unit, Inter-Agency Task Force and the Guard and Emergency Branch.
During the manhunt for Romney, the Police Social and Welfare Association offered a $20,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for Gilkes’ killing.
Asked about this on Thursday, president of the association Insp Gideon Dickson said, “As a result of the development, an ongoing investigation is taking place and, from an operational investigative standpoint, I will not be able to comment on anything in relation to that.
“However, I am aware that the association would have put out a bounty for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. In light of the developments and the continued development, we are, in fact, monitoring and I will not be able to speak to that definitively until the completion of the investigation.”