CoP was misled on purpose

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Pallbearers carry the coffin of their colleague Clarence Gilkes, 44, at his funeral service on April 30. Gilkes was shot by a police officer on April 22.

Photo by Jeff K Mayers

The Police Complaints Authority has made damning findings against police officers of the Western Division involved in the fatal shooting of one of their colleagues and a plot to mislead the acting Commissioner of Police.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the PCA concluded that members of the police “abused their power and deliberately mislead the acting Commissioner of Police (CoP). This incident is one of the clearest examples of abuse of police power that the PCA has investigated to date.”

It said the evidence revealed that police officers “shot at an unarmed civilian and, unfortunately, PC Clarence Gilkes became an unintended target.”

Police initially claimed 12 officers of the Western Division Task Force responded to a report of man armed with high-powered guns at Rich Plain, Diego Martin, on April 22.

They reported they confronted one of the men, Jhelano Romney, on the steps leading to a hilly area and were shot at, in the course of which Romney had killed Gilkes, 44.

PC Clarence Gilkes

As a result, acting CoP McDonald Jacob, who arrived at the crime scene hours after the incident, said criminals had declared war on the police, and over 100 officers, soldiers and special units were deployed in the hills of Diego Martin, Carenage and other areas to capture Romney, then declared the country’s most wanted man.

Romney managed to evade capture and boarded a vessel to Venezuela. He only returned and surrendered to the PCA after an autopsy revealed that the bullet which hit Gilkes in the back of the head came from a police gun.

Homicide detectives investigating the case consulted Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, at the end of April, and after reviewing the evidence, the DPP instructed the police to release Romney.

Romney’s attorney Criston Williams said then the DPP would have had to give permission for charges of murder to be laid against him.

“Where allegations were made against him by the police service, the DPP has to give permission before he could be charged for murder. The police officers would have conducted their investigation and presented that information and evidence to the DPP for his analysis as he considers whether to proffer a charge of murder or not.

Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob –

“The DPP said no, no charges should be laid, so therefore he was released.”

Jacob was said to have been embarrassed after being misled by the task force officers and senior Western Division officers.

The head of the division, Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, was sent on leave. Thompson claimed at Gilkes’ funeral that the injured officer was a hero, as he managed to return fire after he was shot. The evidence uncovered by the PCA does not support that account.

Jacob suspended three officers on May 6 after getting the ballistics report on the killing.

In this file photo Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, then head of the Western Divison, presents a framed photo of PC Clarence Gilkes and the police flag to Gilkes’s widow Cindy Sin-Leong on April 30. Photo by Jeff K Mayers

The PCA said on Thursday, “The scientific evidence gathered by the PCA clearly demonstrates PC Gilkes was fatally shot by one of his fellow officers. However, before this evidence became apparent, the police officers informed the acting. CoP that an unarmed civilian would have shot PC Gilkes, which led to his death, and caused the police service to launch a manhunt in order to ‘deal with the persons responsible for this act.'” The PCA has made recommendations to both the office of the DPP and the acting CoP.

Romney has given a detailed statement to the police and the PCA about the events which took place that day.

In a statement on Thursday, Jacob acknowledged receipt of the PCA’s report but said the police’s own investigation, conducted by the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB), was still ongoing. The release added that police will take advice from the DPP when that probe was completed.

“The acting CoP together with the head of the PSB, Snr Supt Suzette Martin, and the lead investigator Snr Supt Joseph Chandool held a meeting with PCA director, Mr David West, along with two of his investigators, where a completed investigative file was handed over to the Acting CoP.”

Jacob then passed the file to Chandool who was told to “continue the normal procedure of linking the evidential file with that of the PCA and to continue the investigation.”

The acting Commissioner also assured the public and residents of Rich Plain in particular that the police would follow the rule of law in investigating Gilkes’ death.

The release added, ” The CoP Ag also states that the TT Police Service is the institution provided with the mandate and responsibility to prefer charges against persons, while the courts of the country decide on the innocence or guilt of persons who are charged. He also assures that the public will be advised when the final advice is given by the DPP regarding this matter.”

In another response on Thursday, Ulric Skerritt, the lawyer for three police officers under investigation for Gilkes’ death, says the PCA’s findings reek of bias.

Speaking to Newsday by phone, Skerrit said the PCA said it had done an investigation, but to date, it had not interviewed his clients about what happened. His clients, an acting corporal and two constables, formerly assigned to the Western Division Task Force, were suspended from duty by the acting CoP on May 6 after a ballistics report revealed the bullet which killed Gilkes was fired from a police gun.

“It is clear that the PCA from the onset had a haphazard approach and an almost biased approach to the investigation into the matter,” Skerrit said.

“If they came to that conclusion, that the police officers fired upon an unarmed man, what they are in fact doing is clearly taking an approach that whatever that man said was true, and without interviewing the other parties investigating the matter. In those circumstances, I will urge the public to await the findings of the official police investigation.”

West, when contacted, did not wish to respond to Skerritt’s claims.

This story was originally published with the title “Lawyer claims PCA probe into PC Gilkes’ death ‘biased'” and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

The lawyer for three police officers under investigation in the shooting death of their colleague PC Clarence Gilkes says the findings by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) reek of bias.

In a phone interview on Thursday Ulric Skerritt responded to a statement by the PCA which found police “abused their power and deliberately mislead the acting Commissioner of Police (CoP). This incident is one of the clearest examples of abuse of police power that the PCA has investigated to date.”

It said the evidence revealed police officers “shot at an unarmed civilian and, unfortunately, PC Clarence Gilkes became an unintended target.”

Skerritt said the PCA said it had done an investigation, but to date, it had not interviewed his clients about what happened. His clients, an acting corporal and two constables, formerly assigned to the Western Division Task Force, were suspended from duty by the acting CoP on May 6 after a ballistics report revealed the bullet which killed Gilkes was fired from a police gun.

Skerritt said, “It is clear that the PCA from the onset had a haphazard approach and an almost biased approach to the investigation into the matter. If they came to that conclusion, that the police officers fired upon an unarmed man, what they are in fact doing is clearly taking an approach that whatever that man said was true, and without interviewing the other parties investigating the matter. In those circumstances, I will urge the public to await the findings of the official police investigation.”

Newsday also tried to contact acting CoP McDonald Jacob and public information officer ASP Sheridon Hill for comment on the PCA’s findings but so far they have not responded to WhatsApp messages.

Director of the PCA David West did not wish to respond to Skerritt’s claims.

Police initially claimed 12 Western Division Task Force officers responded to a report of a man armed with high-powered guns at Rich Plain, Diego Martin, on April 22.

Director of the PCA David West

They reported they confronted one of the men, Jhelano Romney, on the steps leading to a hilly area and were shot at, in the course of which Romney had killed Gilkes, 44.

As a result, Jacob, who arrived hours after the incident, said criminals had declared war on the police, and over 100 officers, soldiers and special units were deployed in the Diego Martin hills, Carenage and other areas to capture Romney, then declared the country’s most wanted man.

Romney evaded capture and wentl to Venezuela. He only returned and surrendered to the PCA after an autopsy revealed that the bullet which hit Gilkes in the back of the head came from a police gun.

Homicide detectives investigating the case consulted Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, at the end of April. After reviewing the evidence, he instructed the police to release Romney.

Supt Joseph Chandool of the Homicide Bureau is leading a team of investigators probing Gilkes’ death.

This story has been updated. The original version is below.

PCA finds abuse of police power, cover-up in cop’s death in Rich Plain

The Police Complaints Authority has made damning findings against police officers of the Western Division involved in the fatal shooting of one of their colleagues and a plot to mislead the acting Commissioner of Police.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the PCA concluded that members of the police “abused their power and deliberately mislead the acting Commissioner of Police (CoP). This incident is one of the clearest examples of abuse of police power that the PCA has investigated to date.”

It said the evidence revealed that police officers “shot at an unarmed civilian and, unfortunately, PC Clarence Gilkes became an unintended target.”

Police initially claimed 12 officers of the Western Division Task Force responded to a report of man armed with high-powered guns at Rich Plain, Diego Martin, on April 22.

They reported they confronted one of the men, Jhelano Romney, on the steps leading to a hilly area andwere shot at, in the course of which Romney had killed Gilkes, 44.

As a result, acting CoP McDonald Jacob, who arrived at the crime scene hours after the incident, said criminals had declared war on the police, and over 100 officers, soldiers and special units were deployed in the hills of Diego Martin, Carenage and other areas to capture Romney, then declared the country’s most wanted man.

Romney managed to evade capture and boarded a vessel to Venezuela. He only returned and surrendered to the PCA after an autopsy revealed that the bullet which hit Gilkes in the back of thehead came from a police gun.

Homicide detectives investigating the case consulted Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, at the end of April, and after reviewing the evidence, the DPP instructed the police to release Romney.

Romney’s attorney Criston Williams said then the DPP would have had to give permission for charges of murder to be laid against him.

“Where allegations were made against him by the police service, the DPP has to give permission before he could be charged for murder. The police officers would have conducted their investigation and presented that information and evidence to the DPP for his analysis as he considers whether to proffer a charge of murder or not.

“The DPP said no, no charges should be laid, so therefore he was released.”

Jacob was said to have been embarrassed after being misled by the task force officers and senior Western Division officers.

The head of the division, Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, was sent on vacation leave. Thompson claimed at Gilkes’ funeral that the injured officer was a hero, as he managed to return fire after he was shot. The evidence uncovered by the PCA does not support that account.

Jacob suspended three officers on May 6 after getting the ballistics report on the killing.

The PCA said on Thursday, “The scientific evidence gathered by the PCA clearly demonstrates PC Gilkes was fatally shot by one of his fellow officers. However, before this evidence became apparent, the police officers informed the acting. CoP that an unarmed civilian would have shot PC Gilkes, which led to his death, and caused the police service to launch a manhunt in order to ‘deal with the persons responsible for this act.'” The PCA has made recommendations to both the office of the DPP and the acting CoP.

Romney has given a detailed statement to the police and the PCA about the events which took place that day.

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