Standing, 'zesser funeral' for two men killed by police

A mourner blows a kiss to deceased Sterling
A mourner blows a kiss to deceased Sterling "Sterling" Raymond at the viewing of his body that was placed to stand along with the body of his also deceased friend Kevin "Chappy" Edwards at the funeral for the two in Enterprise, Chaguanas on Thursday. - ROGER JACOB

STAYING true to their larger-than-life, flashy and “out there” personalities, as described by family and friends, the bodies of Sterling Raymond, and Kevin “Chappy” Edwards, stole the show one final time when they journeyed to their Bhagaloo Street, Enterprise, Chaguanas homes, standing to attend their respective funerals on Thursday.

Raymond, 26, and Edwards, 32, were both shot dead by the police on March 17 near the Longdenville police post.

The bodies of Raymond and Edwards who are neighbours, were outfitted in white suits and they were each propped up to stand in a glass case while holding a bottle of Moët champagne.

Dennie’s Funeral Home was responsible for preparing the standing bodies. On Monday, the funeral home prepared the body of murder victim Jevon Clairmont, in a similar style.

The funeral attracted a thick throng of mostly masked mourners who, in the presence of police officers, ignored covid19 physical distancing health regulations so they could get a good view of the bodies.

While there were initially some tears in what is usually a sombre event, this eventually transitioned into a party-like atmosphere, when mourners started to dance and sing along to the “B16” lyrics sang by now deceased Trinibad (local dancehall) artists Rebel Sixx and K Lion, which blasted from speakers.

Mourners also sprayed the glass cases holding the bodies with champagne.

One mourner described the event as a “zesser funeral.”

“All the young people, you see how they zessing. Some had on masks and some did not have on masks. They were spraying the dead with alcohol, they made it look like a party.”

Raymond’s father, Ray Ken Raymond, 57, repeated his call for justice for his son’s death.

Mourners gathered at the funerals of Sterling "Sterling" Raymond and Kevin "Chappy" Edwards in Enterprise, Chaguanas, on Thursday. - ROGER JACOB

“My son now come home dead and if they (police) feel that will solve crime in Trinidad and Tobago...Minister of Security this what the police is doing...I want you to really look into what really going on. Allyuh taking this thing as a joke and people family been losing they life.”

“I leave this in God hand...but justice have to prevail!”

According to the police, Raymond and Edwards crashed the Hyundai Tucson SUV they were driving into a police car and shot at them leading officers to shoot back, killing the men.

Newsday spoke with the head of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) David West who said the PCA is still investigating the matter.

“We have received documents from the police and other types of evidence. Investigations are continuing.”

Raymond’s father told Newsday that his son had over $100,000 cash on him when the police killed him.

Asked about the money, West said he could not comment on the allegation.

Bishop Roland Gulston who officiated Raymond’s funeral, said he hoped the Enterprise community could be a place of peace.

“The God we serve is a God of love and a God of peace. I ask each and every day for this community to be a better place that people could be able to walk the road, talk with each other, share with each other and love each other as it was before when I first come Enterprise.”

“The youths need proper guidance in this community. Enterprise still has a lot of good youths and a lot of good people.”

In her eulogy, Edwards’ sister, Lisa, described her brother as a “brave daredevil.”

“I just remember my brother, the little baby that would run away in his pampers (sic). The one that you would always have to be looking for because he was always a brave daredevil.

“Everyone that loved him would miss him tremendously. A lot of people focus on only the bad that is circulating but no one knows…”

The pastor who officiated at the funeral, reminded mourners that Edwards, a father of two, would have celebrated his birthday on the very day of the funeral (March 25) but instead his death was being mourned.

“This house was supposed to be a house of feasting. This neighbourhood was supposed to be a place of fun and excitement today. And eight days ago plans began to change...and this house of merriment as planned, has become the house of mourning.”

He told mourners that it was “better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting,” since everyone has an “appointment with death” and funerals forced people to think of their own mortality. This, he said, was important so that people would change their lives for the better especially since they have “an appointment to stand before God and give an account…”

Both Raymond and Edwards were buried at the Longdenville public cemetery, not too far from where they were killed.


"Standing, ‘zesser funeral’ for two men killed by police"

More in this section