Mother of woman abused, murdered in 2017: Police must take their jobs seriously

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tot Lambkin mother of Samantha Isaacs who was shot and killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend Kahriym Garcia in 2017.

TOT Lambkin gushed as she spoke about her ten-year-old grandson, Kaiden, his love for drawing and his dedication to his schoolwork. She said he would like to become a doctor. However, the joy in her voice was underscored by the grief and sorrow of her murdered daughter.

On December 16, 2017, Lambkin’s daughter, 26-year-old Samantha Isaacs, was shot and killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend, Kahriym Garcia, 31, after he made multiple death threats. Garcia later shot and killed himself.

In a phone interview with Newsday on May 17, Lambkin said she was happy over the May 16 ruling by Justice Robin Mohammed, who found Isaacs’ protection of the law and respect for private and family life were infringed by the inaction of the police and the judiciary. Compensation for Isaac’s family will be determined at a later date.

Lambkin said her grandson is aware of everything that has taken place and they both sought counselling together, describing him as her strong tower and rock.

“He always cheers me up, at times I find myself crying when I look at him. He looks just like his mother, he is as handsome as she was pretty.

“When he sees me crying, he says, Mommy, don’t cry, everything will be alright. He’s the sweetest soul and an A+ student.” She said for three months after her daughter’s death, she could not eat or sleep, saying all she did was lay in bed and cry. Lambkin said it was only after giving her life to Jesus Christ did she begin her journey of healing.

She said the road had not always been easy, and reflected on times of financial hardship. Lambkin said she never received public assistance and they have been surviving on a National Insurance Board pension from her murdered daughter’s job.

“Nobody ever helped me with him. At the time of her murder, I wasn’t working because I had retired to take care of him when he was born.”

Lambkin described taking care of her grandson as her only and most important job and she considers herself a single parent. Lambkin said her life was about serving Christ and taking care of her grandson, ensuring he knew all the wonderful things about his mother and Isaac’s memory is kept alive.

Asked what the recent ruling meant to or for her, Lambkin said whatever the settlement was, it would help with her grandson’s future and ensure he had a good foundation.

“His mother is not around to provide for him, I want to make sure he is taken care of even when I’m not here.”

Above everything, Lambkin says she hopes the judgment sends a strong and clear message to the police that they need to take their jobs seriously, saying their intervention can mean the difference between life and death for a person.

“Not all police are bad, but that one officer who doesn’t do his job can be the cause of another family’s pain and grief. It’s not my daughter alone who has gone through this. There are a number of women still dying at the hands of abusive men and nothing is being done.”

She hoped the judgment also deterred abusive partners.

“The Prime Minister told women to choose their men wisely, but no man is going to tell a woman, ‘I’m a criminal, abuser, but I love you.’ If they did, no woman would say, ‘okay.’

“It’s when you get to know them and you’re trying to get out of it. That’s where the fire gets hot. That’s where you’re going to pay with your life if you have no help.”

On February 2, 2017, the Dr Rowley, angered by recent domestic-related murders, called on women to choose their male companions more wisely while speaking at the amphitheatre of the Maloney Shopping Mall.

Samantha Isaacs daughter of Tot Lambkin. Isaacs was shot and killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend Kahriym Garcia in 2017.

Lambkin said she wanted the Government to put systems in place for people in abusive situations so when they did speak up, they were protected, and they had a safe place to go to help them recuperate and start their lives again.

“I wish more ladies could get help now, but for that to happen, the police need to start doing their job properly, so other women in similar situations could get out safely.

“What I’ve experienced is not easy, I don’t wish this grief on any other family.”

She believed since her daughter’s murder, there had been no changes in how domestic violence victims were treated in TT.

“We still see and read about lots of cases where young girls and women are dying, trying to get out of abusive relationships. My mother used to say, ‘Foot, don’t run from anything good.’”

She called for harsher penalties for domestic violence-related crimes and stressed the importance of allocating resources to not just protect victims but also help them navigate their lives after leaving the situation.

“When someone’s life is at risk, all attempts to help must be made, everyone involved needs to do their job. I cannot stress enough how important it is for the police to protect and serve.”

Lambkin called for more education and awareness about domestic violence and where victims can find resources.

“It’s only when my daughter died that I knew there were safe houses.”

On March 22, 2019, Digicel and the Australian High Commission, along with donors and volunteers, worked together to open the Samantha Isaacs Centre for Battered Women and Children’s safe house.

“There are plenty of ladies going through the same thing today and need somewhere to go.”

Despite her tragedy, Lambkin says she is coping because of her faith in Christ and the love she shares with her grandson, both of which she credits with keeping her going.

“Christ never failed me, he’s always there. Now and then I cry because I miss my child dearly. When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and saviour after getting dipped in the water, I felt my burdens lifted.”

She described Isaac as a loving daughter, saying she missed her hugs and kisses the most.

“She was always hugging me and kissing me. She would come from work and sit on my lap like a big baby. She was such a loving soul.”

She urged parents to love their children and guide them, especially their daughters, saying the devil is around, roaming.

“Encourage your daughters to leave any bad situation they are in. I did so and despite the outcome, she knew I was there for her. As a country, we have to be one another’s keeper again.”

Lambkin ended the interview by pleading with the police to take their job seriously.

“Again, I’m not saying all officers are bad or not doing their jobs because I know there are hard-working officers, but don’t be the one who doesn’t do their job and be the reason a family has to bury a loved one. Remember, you might have a grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter.”

Newsday spoke to Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director David West on May 17 via phone and he said the authority had taken note of the judgment and had recommended disciplinary action against an officer attached to the Carenage Police Station in connection with Isaacs’ case.

He said no disciplinary proceedings were taken against the officer and the authority first received a complaint on February 1, 2018. West said the PCA submitted its recommendation to the Commissioner of Police on April 3, 2019.

Asked if he believed recommendations from the PCA were taken seriously, West said, yes, but did not know why the recommendations in this matter were rejected.