Police probes death of inmate

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Shurland Brown.

POLICE said an investigation had been launched into the March 26 fracas at the Port of Spain Prison which left 17 officers and five inmates injured will now be widened to include the death of one of the prisoners.

A statement from the police on March 30 said officers are investigating the death of Shurland “Big Mesh” Brown who died at hospital on March 29.

Browne, 26, of Balbaday Hill, Dibe, St James, was on remand, charged with the 2019 murder of Joshua Fortune on Balbaday Hill, Belle Vue Road, St James.

The prison brawl broke out on March 26, reportedly as a prison officer was escorting a prisoner to his cell at around 10.15 am. The incident lasted for about 10 minutes. At the end of the fracas 17 prison officers and six inmates were injured.

Brown’s attorney, Alexia Romero, said on March 29 that Brown’s family plans to press full charges. She said Brown was not involved in the initial incident and was badly beaten and unresponsive when he was taken to hospital on March 26.

Speaking to Newsday on March 30, she said there had been no update up to that time, and it was unlikely an autopsy would be carried out until April 2.

The police service said in a release that they had received a report of the fracas around noon on March 26 and an investigation was immediately launched, with officers from the Port-of-Spain CID assigned to investigate.

The release said the officers visited the accident and emergency department at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where “the inmates were seeking medical attention for various injuries. They were all medically treated and later discharged.”

The officers also visited the accident and emergency department at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre and interviewed the prison officers while they were being treated for various injuries. They were later all discharged.

The police said they were informed on March 29 that Brown passed away while getting medical attention and investigations were ongoing.

Brown’s mother, who did not wish to be named, said there were no words to explain her grief.

Speaking to Newsday on March 30, she said,

“I come to work because I don’t want to stay home to feel more sad than I’m feeling already.

“Who is bringing back my son? Regardless of what he was in prison for, my son didn’t deserve to die like that. How is a mother supposed to feel?”

She said since she had been informed of her son’s death on March 29, she had not been contacted by anyone from the prison service.

She said she hoped there would be some sort of recourse in the courts.

“It has nothing to do with no money for me, it’s the injustice that was done to him. He didn’t deserve that.”

She was eventually told by nurses that Brown might have meningitis, but doctors said they also wanted to test for tuberculosis. She said when her lawyer visited Brown in the hospital, he seemed healthy and wondered why she was being told he was ill with something other than injuries from being beaten by prison officers.