Witness in PC Gilkes shooting claims cops want him dead

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The body of PC Clarence Gilkes in carried for burial at the Tunapuna Public Cemetery on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

The Police Complaints Authority has opened a fresh investigation into claims made by the star witness in the death of PC Clarence Gilkes of acts of intimidation, harassment and death threats by Western Division officers.

PCA Director David West on Friday confirmed that a report had been made by the witness, Jehlano Romney, and the matter was under investigation.

Romney, 29, of Upper Richplain, Diego Martin escaped injury after police opened fire on him on April 22, near his home. Gilkes was shot by an officer and died.

Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob spoke with West about the report on Saturday, after he was informed about it on Friday.

He said the police will take the “necessary action.”

Jacob said he was unaware that Romney had been harassed by police who claimed they had a warrant for his arrest or that he was under constant surveillance.

He said he did not want to comment on issues which arose during the investigation to ensure “justice is served.”

Three officers who were among a group of 12 in raid have been suspended pending the outcome of a police investigation into the incident. The head of the division, Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, has also been sent on vacation leave.

On the night of the incident, Jacob, after speaking to officers who were involved in the operation and senior officers of the Western Division, rejected a report that Gilkes was shot by friendly fire. He said the report he received was that 12 officers responded to a report of men armed with rifles and during a shootout Gilkes was shot dead.

PC Clarence Gilkes

Jacob said then over 100 officers were deployed to find Romney, then described as the most wanted man, as criminals had declared war on the police.

But after an autopsy revealed that the bullet which killed Gilkes came from a police gun, Jacob sent an acting corporal and two constables on leave as well as the head of the division. He said on Friday that he could not apologise to the people of Richplain until the police investigation is complete.

The PCA, in a statement on Thursday, said it had completed its probe into the Gilkes matter and concluded it was one of the worst cases of abuse of police powers, and that there was a deliberate attempt by officers to mislead the commissioner.

Romney told Sunday Newsday on Friday that even though he has co-operated with the PCA and the Homicide Bureau, officers from the Western Division continue to make his life a living hell. He said he is confined to his home out of fear.

He said on June 26, around 3.45 am, what he believes to be an unmarked police vehicle was parked outside his home. He said he recognised one of the men in the vehicle as an officer who previously threatened to harm him.

He said since the incident officers have been marking him and referred to an incident where police stopped a car he was in and threatened to arrest him on an outstanding warrant.

Romney said the situation only diffused after he told the officers that he had been at the Professional Standards Bureau four days earlier speaking to an investigator, and if he was wanted for an offence they would not have allowed him to leave.

“I don’t drive my vehicle again, I can’t work. They still consider me a problem, they still threatening me, they still on to me. Every time you hear police around, I hiding. I can’t fight them no other way. Is either I get a chance to live it out and this bacchanal come to an end or I lose the fight. But I have a family to feed, I need to survive. I have faith in the Office of the DPP office to make the right decision,” he said

Asked whether the witness protection was a option, Romney said that programme was operated by the police and he had no faith in it.

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