Mother of 17-year-old shot by police: Cops’ story not adding up

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE mother of a teenage boy shot dead by police on Saturday says she just wants the truth about her son’s death. She says the police’s story is not adding up and she plans to take the matter to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

Jeremy Baptiste, 17, of La Hoe Road, Febeau Village, San Juan, was killed after a car chase.

Around 5pm on Saturday, police along the Eastern Main Road saw a white Honda City speeding and dangerously overtaking other cars.

Police chased the car and tried to intercept it, but the driver ignored all calls to stop.

The car was eventually intercepted near Bottle Alley, off the Lady Young Road, in Morvant, where four men got out.

Police say some of the men shot at them and they returned fire, but all four ran in different directions into nearby bushes.

Police ran after them and found Baptiste lying on the ground a short distance away, bleeding from a wound to his chest, with a gun next to him.

He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital, where he died while being treated.

In the trunk of the Honda City, police found five spent 5.56mm shells, a rectangular block containing compressed marijuana and a package containing what appeared to be cocaine.

At the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Tuesday, Baptiste’s mother Minikha told Newsday she is struggling to make sense of the news, as Baptiste had absolutely no history of trouble-making or criminal involvement.

“That is not my son. He was never in any kind of report or been in trouble.”

Minikha Baptiste said her son attended Servol and wanted to be a mortician, as other family members owned funeral homes.

She said he worked at one of the homes and was preparing to go abroad to study to become a licensed mortician.

“His dream was to open his own business and be a businessman and have his own funeral home someday.

“I told him this is not is a walk in the park and it is something that you have to go and put work into.”

She said he told her he was willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve his dream.

“He often went to the funeral home and helped with the bodies. He was there at times preparing the dead and learning the operations of being a mortician.”

Plans were already being set in motion for Baptiste to move abroad and begin his studies.

“I was now seeing about the passport for him and my five other children. June 6 was the day for us to go in to get our passport. From there we were going to see about our visas. He was (supposed) to be the first one to leave Trinidad to go abroad.”

She said the story given by the police is not adding up and she intends to take the matter to the PCA and will not drop it until she gets some answers.

“We plan to take it further…However far it has to go. Even if I have to leave the job that I have right now, I plan to take the time off and go further with it, for the sake of my five other kids I have at home.

“I would just like to get to the bottom of it, knowing my son.”

Minikha Baptiste said she was close to her son and often spoke with him about life and life choices.

“Once or twice I saw my son talking to one or two groups of fellas that live up by us, who I know are not on the right track. I told him, ‘Jeremy, they are not your friends, because if you are working and they are not working, the language don’t mesh. That is two different language.’

“He said to me, ‘Mummy, I have my head on my shoulder. Nobody can influence me. I am strong and I believe I have a brain to think and to do the right thing.’”

She said she is just looking for the truth about Baptiste’s death, whatever it may be.

“What the police are saying is one thing. Me, as a mother, I just want to feel comfortable within my soul knowing what is the truth.

“The truth shall set you free. Whatever is the truth, I have to accept it.”