WITH no where left to turn, Andre Richardson relied on God to help him through his life as he grappled with the death of his son at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve, with pride.
On June 23, 2018, around 4 am, Richardson’s first born son Yasin, was killed in what police described as a shoot-out after the 22-year-old allegedly robbed a gas station.
Another man, Brandon Bruce, who was in the vehicle with Yasin, was also shot in the shoulder. Police found him hiding in the trunk of the car and later charged with shooting at police officers. Police claimed they chased the getaway car from D'Abadie to Tumpuna Road before they intercepted the vehicle.
Since then Richardson has been waiting for justice as he remained adamant that his child was wrongfully killed.
On May 11, four police officers were arrested on suspicion of murdering Yasin. But by Saturday all of them had been released pending further investigations.
“After I run out of options, prayer was my only option. When I heard that the officers were arrested I thanked the father for answering my prayers. But I know it would have happened. Some results had to come out of this (praying). I tried everything humanly possible and I find no result was coming out.”
Speaking with Newsday at his Moonan Road, Wallerfield home on Friday, Richardson said life without his son has left him depressed.
“To tell you the truth I does be going through a state of depression. I taking medication for it right now. The thing that does stick with me is seeing my son in the mortuary. No father supposed to see that. For a good while when I try to go to sleep and I close my eye is that I see, can’t sleep. Is just frustration.”
The father of four sons said he became a chain smoker following his son’s death.
Living without his son
Richardson said he and his son were friends and he was in the process of teaching his son his trade as an engineer at CJ Lumber. He recalled shortly after his son left school he was charged for rape and robbery in two separate incidents. Both matters were dismissed in court.
“His daughter real resemble him so when I see she is like I seeing him and I does get real sad yuh know. That is the only piece of my son I have left. When he told me he got this girl pregnant, at first I was vex because he was young, but now that was a good thing because is all I have left of him.”
He added: “I had to find out about the death of my son from Ian Alleyne. I came home from work and met an Ian Alleyne van parked up outside my gate. When I come out they ask me if I have any comments over the death of my son. The police never informed me about it.”
Yasin's grandfather, Matthew Richardson was devastated by the death. He used to have a picture of his grandson in the rear-view mirror of his taxi but placed it in his glove compartment. The mere mention of Yasin’s name is enough to make him cry.
On Thursday, during a visit by Sunday Newsday, the grandfather began to cry when he retrieved the picture from his taxi.
He said in order to cope he read and later recited Psalm 35 twice daily, hoping for justice. The first two verses of the scripture reads: "Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me. Fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help."
He said, “My last fond memory of my son was teaching him how to operate a machine called a drawer. When I see how fast he pick up that until it reach a stage he was the only person that could have fixed and operate that machine. It took me five to six years to learn it and he did it in a year. He was very mechanically inclined.”
“Things was looking up for him. Days before he died he bought a car. The Friday he got paid and went to lime and the next I saw him was in the mortuary. This take a real toll on my family, my father and all get depressed, right through he crying. Any time you mention that name. He and my son was real close, closer than me and my son.”
The Pursuit of justice
Richardson said he did his own investigations and spoke with business owners where the robbery allegedly took place and people where his son was killed, retracing the final moments of his child. He eventually saw a video of his son's killing. Richardson recalled three days before his son was killed, he was threatened by an ex-police officer after the officer caught Yasin with a female companion of his.
“Three days prior to this whole scene, the policeman come home and meet my son in his house. They had an altercation and the ex-police vow to kill him and three days later this happen.”
"What I saw in that video, that wasn’t police, that was criminal. It was pure blatant criminals. Well the criminals don’t even do it like that.”
About a year ago, Richardson said, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) told him their investigation was complete and their advice was that the police officers involved should be charged with murder. The file was sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who ordered another investigation, this time conducted by the Homicide Bureau.
“I lost total confidence in the police. How I could ever trust the police again? I knew in all this something was coming out in this situation, hopefully, but I still not sure because they ain’t charge them yet. I breathe a sigh of relief that something happening because I started to think that nothing going to happen that my son died for no reason.”
Richardson praised the PCA for never giving up, particularly an officer who he said relentlessly pursued his son’s case. He added that he was comforted in the fact the the matter is still ongoing although the officers have been released.
“As a poor person I didn’t know which avenue to turn to or which door to knock on to get something done. The PCA did a very, very good job. I must commend them.”