By Darcel Choy Thursday, April 12 2012
Seeking justice: Justice Minister Herbert Volney and PCA director Gillian Lucky discuss the police shooting of Atiba Duncan during a press conference,...
Justice Minister and MP for St Joseph Herbert Volney yesterday described the police shooting of Atiba Duncan as a homicide and called on Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs to suspend two officers.
Duncan, 27, was shot dead last Wednesday by police officers in Mt D’Or Road, Champs Fleurs, following an alleged altercation which occurred when a male and female officer tried to apprehend Duncan over an outstanding warrant. He later died at hospital.
At a press conference at his ministry at Tower C, International Waterfront Centre in Port-of-Spain, Volney said upon speaking to eye witnesses he found out that Duncan had a small quantity of weed which he tossed to the side as he was approached by a male officer. The officer held on to Duncan’s jersey and when he tried to escape, he was shot at very close range with a semi automatic weapon.
According to information Volney received from the pathologist, Duncan died from a single gunshot wound above the left shoulder blade.
He noted the gunshot entered Duncan’s body from the back damaging the upper lobe of the lung which resulted in haemorrhage of up to one litre of blood into his lung.
Volney noted the distance between the injury and the weapon used would have been at least one metre away but the entry and the direction of the shot was almost horizontal with a mild deviation to the left and downward which would suggest that the person had just started to run.
“What this means is that the deceased was shot in his back as he was fleeing. From the reports at hand and the alleged eyewitnesses I spoke to, this appears to be nothing short of a homicidal killing, I say this not just as a MP but as a former justice of the High Court one who has presided over hundreds of criminal trials,” he said.
The minister also pointed out that after the incident, the police officers returned to search for bullet shells which they picked up, thereby interfering with the scene of a homicide.
“That is extremely serious, it was their duty to preserve the scene of the killing for other investigators to determine the circumstances surrounding the death. I do not know if the officer (the shooter) is still on duty but I call on the Commissioner of Police to place that officer on suspension pending the determination of the investigation into that killing,” he said.
Volney said he taken up the cry of his constituents to ensure that no stone remains unturned and he will investigate the matter to ensure that justice is served.
“Those officers who are trigger hungry, will know to do so is nothing short of an abuse of power.
You don’t kill a man in this country for being in possession of weed and that is the law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director Gillian Lucky, who was present at the press conference, noted that the minister was entitled to indicate in the public domain what his views were as the PCA was mandated in law to exercise its functions within the parameters of the law as it is an independent authority mindful of its mandate.
“Whatever may be said, in the public domain it is already in the public domain, there are competing versions, there is one version by the police and there is one version by those who are saying they saw it.
“In all the matters in which the PCA gets involved, the PCA always ensures that it remains with an open mind, a fair mind and that it gathers the evidence and makes a finding according to the evidence without having any type of agenda or having to please any particular entity. As long as justice is served at the end of the day, meaning whatever evidence is found that is what has to be used to resolve the issue,” she said.
Lucky, who has also served as judge, pointed out that she was not informed of Duncan’s killing by Gibbs but by a member of the media.
She said she reminded Gibbs of existing protocol which needs to be followed in similar situations.
“There is too much reasonable delay with these types of incidents, it is not right having established a protocol to have the PCA informed so long after the event,” she said.
Lucky said she will meet with Gibbs tomorrow to discuss the killing along with other pressing matters.