Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Griffith: Police-involved shootings will be investigated

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said he has noted the increase in the number of police-involved shootings and said these incidents will be investigated.

In  a statement issued today, Griffith said each incident will be investigated by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to determine if the minimum use of force was used.

The statement was issued after a number of people were killed in police-involved shootings. One recent shooting involved prison officer Joel Ramsoondar, who was killed in the incident.

Griffith said:

‘During the last two years, there were 131 incidents where police officers were shot at, with six officers, including the two yesterday, being wounded. That is equivalent to one police officer being shot at every six days. Yesterday’s incident and many others show the danger the police face in the line of duty.’

He said thankfully, no police officer has been killed in the line of duty for some time.

‘It is obvious that when these persons shoot at the police, we will return fire. And because we are more highly trained, there is always the likelihood that some of these persons will be killed. If there is an increase in shootings at the police, it is very possible that more persons will be shot.’

He said according to reports, around 4:30 pm yesterday, members of the Central Division Gang and Intelligence Unit, acting on information, executed a search warrant at a two-storey building located on John Street, Chaguanas. During the search, the police officers were confronted by two men who opened fire on them.

The officers returned fire, fatally wounding the two men. One of the police officers was shot in his chest. He said two firearms belonging to the dead men were recovered.

One of the dead men was identified as Joel Ramsoondar, an active member of the Trinidad and Tobago Prisons Service, and Aleandro Gomez, a national of Venezuela.

In a separate incident the TTPS said earlier yesterday, around 3.45 am, police went to Gasparillo Road, Santa Cruz, to execute a warrant on a man for being in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

They were fired upon and they returned fire. The wanted man, Shaquille Morris, was shot and wounded. He was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mount Hope, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The Prison Service issued a statement today saying they are working with the TTPS on the matter involving Ramsoondar:

‘For the third time in less than three weeks, the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service has once again suffered the loss of yet another officer, as Prisons Officer I #4203 Joel Ramsoondar was fatally shot and killed during an alleged police shootout.’

‘According to information received, the incident occurred at approximately 4:30 pm on Wednesday October 7, 2020 at the home of Mr. Ramsoondar at John Street, Chaguanas.’

‘Commissioner of Prisons (Ag), Mr. Dennis Pulchan has expressed an urgent and major concern over the incident and is working closely with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service as the matter is currently under investigation.’

‘Officer Joel Ramsoondar, a member of the Prison Service for over 8 years, was last attached to the Maximum Security Prison.

‘Our sincerest and heartfelt condolences goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Joel Ramsoondar. May the eternal light shine upon him and grant us all comfort during this difficult and trying time.’

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