On the eve of the second anniversary of the police killing of three men at Second Caledonia, Morvant comes a major development as investigators have gotten the all-clear from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to arrest as many as 18 officers whose conduct is under investigation.
Police and legal sources confirmed that among the possible charges being looked at are homicide, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misbehaviour in public office.
There is no indication as to when a special task force, led by Supt Wayne Abbott, appointed by the acting Commissioner of Police to probe the case will carry out their operation to bring in the suspects. Some of the officers were previously questioned and have given statements in the presence of their attorneys at the Homicide Bureau, in Port of Spain.
Investigators have been liaising with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions throughout the probe and even re-enacted the crime scene to help corroborate eye-witnesses’ account. There is also forensic and ballistic evidence to support the police probe that the none of the men fired any weapons that day.
The killings of Joel Jacob, 38, also called Lion, on his birthday, his childhood friend Noel Diamond, 46, and fellow villager Israel Moses Clinton, 27, sparked sporadic protests in several communities across Trinidad on June 27, 2020, and two successive days.
The family, friends, and the community of Second Caledonia will remember the three men during a candlelight vigil on Monday.
In a telephone interview on Saturday, Sterling Jacob said he found “the wheels of justice were turning too slowly.”
“It is two years now come June 27, we have not heard anything positive as to what is happening. We are hurting because our only son was killed innocently. My wife and I are very disturbed. We are going through some rigours of sleepless nights.”
The shooting took place a stone’s throw from the Jacob’s home and a mural painted on the wall of the Auto Guru building last year with images of the three victims, is being upgraded with a digital image more to the likeness of the men in time for the memorial on Monday.
They have to relive the events every day as they drive past or look west from their porch. He said his wife, Carol, was seeking trauma counselling to help her cope.
“It is our only son and to know that these officers just snuff out his life without any purpose, it pains me.”
Jacob said the incident has not made him hate the police since he knew their were “good officers in the service” but he hopes that the incident will help get rid of rogue officers who operate as though they have a licence to kill and will do anything to cover-up their actions.
“It come (the incident) like it was yesterday…knowing he was a law-abiding citizen, never in anything adverse to the law. He was never in any illegal situation, the country knew that. That is why so many people rise up to protest.”
“We are aching, we are hurting and deeply distressed knowing our son’s life was taken by these …officers. It is a situation where these people believe they are above the law. But I have faith they will be brought to justice. I have faith in the legal system, although it is slow, those police officers will be brought to justice.”
His wife said she hoped that the “higher authorities” such as the Prime Minister, the President, the Law Association, the people who make the laws come together to ensure “justice can be done for the country, not only in her son’s case, but all cases of extra-judicial killings.
“They cannot lay back and do nothing or else rogue officers will continue to do as they please.”
Priscilla Brooks, 76, who remains a heartbroken woman as the only person who helped take care of her is now gone. She too pleaded for justice.
The protests after the killings triggered the Prime Minister to appoint a committee, headed by Anthony Watkins, to go into troubled communities to find out the root causes of the anger, frustration and pain of the people there who often complain of police abuse.
CCTV footage showed Jacob with his arms upraised outside the car, and Clinton with his held hands over the steering wheel of the gold-coloured Nissan Tiida hatchback when several officers opened fire.
Seven of the officers who fired their weapons during the incident were suspended from active duty days after the incident after the Police Complaints Authority made a recommendation to the then commissioner of police Gary Griffith.
An official police report said a joint team of Guard and Emergency Branch officers and officers assigned to the Inter-Agency Task Force, both based at the Aranguez, were on patrol in four jeeps along Juman Drive, Second Caledonia when, near the Auto Guru building, they saw a Nissan Tiida heading towards them.
The police said they stopped the car, which had three occupants. They claimed a man in the back seat got out and started shooting at them. Police claimed they found a Beretta pistol and ammunition in the back seat of the car.
The three injured men were taken to hospital. where they were declared dead on arrival.
CCTV footage showed the officers dragging the bodies of the three men and stuffing them in the back of a jeep which sped off while other officers pointed their weapons at residents who had heard the gunshots.
Of the three killed that day, Clinton was the only one with pending criminal charges: possession of three rounds of ammunition and a money counter.
One of his former attorneys said Clinton had intended to file a complaint with the police Professional Standards Bureau about the alleged theft of $60,000 and US$2,900 during a police raid. He had also filed a case against the State for alleged police brutality in a separate incident after being accused of possession of a stolen vehicle.