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Thursday 13 August, 2020

Bullet through arm, lung amid POS protests; man says shooter was cop

Photo courtesy Andrea De Silva.

Photo courtesy Andrea De Silva.

A 30-year-old man of Nelson Street, Port-of-Spain has sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Attorney General (AG), calling for compensation after he was allegedly shot by police amid protests in the capital.

Fiery demonstrations erupted in and around the city of Port-of-Spain on June 30 and lasted for two days, as residents of Beetham, Morvant, Laventille and Sea Lots expressed frustration over the police killing of three men on June 27.  The victims were Joel Jacob, Noel Diamond and Israel Clinton.

However, as civilians clashed with police, Michael Mc Leod says he was targeted by cops and left with life-changing injuries, despite not being involved in the protests. He is seeking financial redress through his attorneys Wayne Sturge, Lemuel Murphy and Keishel Grant.

According to Mc Leod, the incident occurred between 1 pm and 1.30 pm on June 30. He says he was standing near the Housing Development Buildings 54-56 along George Street. At the time, he was having a conversation about the ongoing demonstrations and the reasons behind them with two people from the area.

Mc Leod says debris was burning and blocking the free flow of traffic on the one-way street. Shortly after, he says a marked TTPS vehicle approached in the direction of Independence Square against the regulated traffic directions. The lawmen were forced to stop by the burning debris.

The Nelson Street man notes that four officers in plain clothes, armed with firearms, exited the vehicle and cleared the rubbish, placing it at the side of the roadway. He says they returned to their vehicle and continued along George Street, passing the trio but stopping a short distance away.

At this point, Mc Leod alleges that he sees an officer point his weapon in their direction and hears explosions. He soon feels a burning sensation to his arm and chest and runs to a nearby staircase seeking cover.

Moments later, one of the witnesses whom he was speaking to, tried to assist him in getting a vehicle to take him to the Port -of-Spain General Hospital for medical attention.

Other onlookers, who had gathered on the street following the incident, reportedly began shouting at the officers saying, “allyuh shoot the man” and “allyuh take the man to the hospital”. The officers allegedly refused to assist.

Mc Leod found a driver willing to take him to the hospital however, he claims police refused to move their vehicle that was parked in the middle of the roadway. Consequently, the car which Mc Leod was in drove over the burnt debris which was placed at the side of the roadway.

The injured man was taken to the hospital where he was treated. One of the bullets went through his lungs and a tube was inserted to remove excess fluid from both his chest and lungs. The second bullet damaged the nerves in his left arm and he has since lost feeling in the limb.  Mc Leod must also undergo surgery for steel to be placed into his arm.

He was hospitalised from June 30 to July 5. During his stay, he was placed on a liquid-only diet and could only sleep in a seated position. Mc Leod says he frequently fell unconscious with black-out episodes due to immense pain which he still suffers. On July 5, he was discharged from the hospital but remains an out-patient.

Mc Leod is now suing for pain and suffering, loss of amenities and the alleged high-handed and criminally negligent conduct by the police officers. He demands interest and costs.

The pre-action letter from his attorneys says the AG is “vicariously liable” for the actions of the police officer and adds that Mc Leod is not averse to settling the matter outside the courts if he is offered a reasonable and satisfactory compensation.

If the AG fails to acknowledge and respond within 14 days of the letter dated July 10, legal proceedings will be initiated without further notice.

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