Lawyer willing to negotiate terms of surrender for suspect in cop’s murder

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Some of the police who responded after colleague PC Clarence Gilkes was shot and killed at Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin on Friday. – Angelo Marcelle

The attorney for the man police believe can assist in the investigation of the murder of PC Clarence Gilkes says his client wants to surrender in the presence of a third party, like the media, but the offer was rejected by the police.

Attorney Criston Williams said his client was afraid for his life and tried to negotiate his surrender with a third party or officers of the Professional Bureau of Standards to pick him up.

The attorney said on Friday he had spoken to a senior officer of the Western Division, whom he did not identify, and his suggestions were refused. The officer insisted that the man turn himself in at the nearest police station, Williams said.

Several units have been searching the hills of Rich Plain, Diego Martin for the “suspect” after Gilkes was shot during a confrontation with an unknown number of men armed with high-powered rifles shortly after 3 pm.

Calls to Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob went unanswered on Saturday. However, acting Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations Joanne Archie said neither she nor the senior superintendent of the Western Division was aware of the request.

“The inclusion of the Professional Bureau of Standards is not an unreasonable request. As far as we are aware, no such request has been made. But if it is, we are willing to cooperate.”

Jacob was on the ground four hours later and declared that the criminals had committed an “act of war” against the police.

“When you have a commissioner (of police) who has adopted a position as ‘you touch one, you touch all,’ obviously that statement must be contrary to the public good, not considering a suspect may have a different version of a story. You are summarily judge, jury and executioner.

“Given the track record of the TTPS, the whole thing is disturbing,” Williams said.

Williams said the Police Complaints Authority had also contacted him on Saturday and officials were willing to help facilitate the surrender.

The man’s mother, Kadaffi Romney, said her son had “fallen through the cracks of society.” However, she said he had started to “clean up his act” when his daughter was born three years ago. He also has a one-year-old son.

She said her son had filed a lawsuit against the police for harassment and claimed that, since then, he had been targeted by the police.

She was also disturbed by the arrest of her older son on Friday after the officer was killed.

“After all that madness, the next news I heard is that my son who has a girlfriend lower down heard all the commotion and came out in her gallery to see what’s going on. The police left the scene, spotted him in the gallery, reversed, grabbed him, slammed him against the car, handcuffed him, threw him in the car and didn’t want to tell anyone where they were taking him.”

She said she had not slept since the incident and she was afraid for her younger son’s safety but she was constantly praying and preparing herself for the worst-case scenario.

“No one wants to hear anything like this about their children. I am very scared but another part of me is very strong.

“Dead or alive, whatever happens to my son, I am not letting up until they clean up this whole issue (of one particular officer targeting her son).”

PC Clarence Gilkes –

According to the official report, Gilkes was part of a team of 12 from the Western Division Task Force who responded to a report of men armed with high-powered rifles in Upper Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin on Friday

An officer at the scene on Saturday told Sunday Newsday the 12 officers went to “the big steps in Rich Plain” around 3 pm on Friday and met some men descending the stairs. The officers were shot at by the men, and they returned fire. Gilkes was shot once in his neck, the officer said.

The men ran off and the other officers took Gilkes to the hospital where he was declared dead shortly after.

However, residents in the area claim the officer was shot and killed by accident from another policeman’s weapon. Jacob refuted that suggested on Friday but said the investigation will determine that.

When Sunday Newsday visited the area on Saturday, residents pointed out the narrow concrete staircase off the side of Rich Plain Road. There were bloodstains on the lower portion of the step and splatters higher up.

During the police’s search for the suspect on Friday and Saturday, several people complained about the aggressive manner in which the search was being done.

Romney said on Saturday morning, the police went to the home of her younger son’s wife, “roughed her up,” and an officer pointed a gun in her face as they searched for him.

In addition, members of the Masjid al Hudaa in Rich Plain complained that on Friday around 4 pm, police entered the premises and began acting n a hostile manner.

In a pre-action protocol letter, the lawyer for the mosque said female members and children were preparing meals for the breaking of fast that evening when police entered. The officers ignored pleas not to walk on the prayer ground and mats with their shoes, overturned pots and containers, destroyed fruits and ransacked the drinks chillers, the letter claimed.

“To add insult to injury the officers then overturned the shelf of the masjid which houses copies of the Holy Q’uran shortly before chasing the members of the masjid wherein one officer was heard saying, ‘Allyuh go from here. No fast can’t break here today.’”

The letter, issued by attorney-at-law Lemuel Murphy, said the officers returned at 8 am on Saturday and destroyed the phones of two members who were attempting to record the officers’ conduct.