Police probe death of Beetham newborn

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Baby Jerel Bains. –

A Beetham woman is mourning the loss of her six-week-old premature baby who was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital in the morning on June 13.

Shortly after 10 am on June 13, Akisha Bains and Jerome Williams took their son Jerel Bains to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH).

Jerel was unresponsive and doctors tried to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.

The doctors saw bruises on his chest area and at around 7 pm that day, reported the baby’s death to the police.

Baby Jerel spent one month in hospital after he was born on May 4 and had been home with his family for two weeks.

He was sleeping next to his two other siblings and his mother at their Main Street, Beetham Gardens, home on June 13 at around 4 am when relatives heard someone call out to Williams.

They told the person he wasn’t home and only then did the person announce themselves as police.

Relatives say police told them they had a warrant for Williams arrest for outstanding child-maintenance payments and then accused them of lying about his whereabouts.

Relatives continued to maintain he was not at home but said police jumped the wall and entered the yard.

“I look out the window and see one of them lean up against the wall and another stand on his shoulder and jump over and unlock the gate for the rest of them,” Williams’s sister said.

Relatives said they told the police there were children in the house who were sleeping but said police accused them of trying to “cover” for Williams.

Bains had just finished feeding Jerel and putting him back to sleep as she was trying to maintain the feeding schedule he had at the hospital.

She was still awake and went outside to see what the commotion was about.

By then, relatives said police had entered the house and began searching for Williams.

Williams’s sister stood by the bedroom door as an officer searched the room in which Jerel was sleeping.

Akisha Bains. –

The police left around 5 am and Bains said she went back to sleep.

She awoke a few hours later and got her older son ready and walked him to school.

Upon returning home, she tried to wake Jerel to feed him but he was unresponsive.

His limbs felt cold and when Bains saw dried blood near his nose, she raised an alarm.

She said Williams tried to perform CPR on the baby on the way to the hospital but doctors said he was dead by the time they arrived.

Bains said the CPR caused the bruises on the baby’s chest.

She said she was distraught as her son, although premature, was perfectly healthy before he died.

“He went for his check-up just last Friday and he was fine and there were no issues. He was putting on weight and everything was good. I had no sign to say that something was going wrong with him.”

She said she hoped for answers in her baby’s death but said she was told she would have to wait up to six weeks for the autopsy results.

Bains said, in the meantime, the family intended to file a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) over concerns about the search.

“The police does come in here and do a lot of unfair to things to people and, to be honest, nothing does really come out of it.”

PCA head David West told Newsday he was unaware of the incident but offered his condolences and encouraged Bains and Williams to reach out to the PCA so a preliminary investigation can be launched.

A senior police official in the Port of Spain Division said any misconduct by the police during the search can only be considered after the baby’s autopsy results.

Asked to comment on the incident, Police Social and Welfare head Gideon Dickson said the family’s version of events raised some “red flags” in his mind.

“The Ts must be crossed and the Is must be dotted because based on the version of events I have heard, some of what (the family) is saying is against standard TTPS (TT Police Service) operating procedure.”

Bains said she would be spending some time with relatives as she could not sleep at home.

While she spoke she had tears in her eyes and they ran down her face as she tried to blink them away.

“I can’t sleep in that bed. I really can’t. I have to go by somebody else to stay because it’s hurting me.”

“I just studying the fact that my baby not here anymore”

Asked if she planned to access counselling, Bains said she was unsure.

“I don’t think it have anything they could tell me to make me feel better, because they can’t bring back my baby!”