Residents of Second Caledonia, Morvant are pleading for the immediate intervention of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) after they claimed police unjustifiably shot and killed a villager whom they said was responsible for a home invasion in the upscale Ellerslie, Maraval district.
Scores of residents protested at the corner of Juman Drive and Lady Young Road, Morvant, on Monday. This was happening even as police were busy trying to clear debris and burning tyres along the Beetham Highway, and other parts of Port of Spain, as protest erupted in the city over the police killing of two teenagers and another man on Independence Square, Port of Spain also on Saturday.
Residents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of police victimisation, said police who responded to the protest warned residents that they would be arrested if they blocked traffic, and one man had his mask ripped off his face by police.
They said unlike the empathy of officers in Port of Spain, those who responded to the Morvant protest were more forceful.
On Saturday, shortly after 6 am, officers of the North Eastern Division Task Force went to the home of Tristian "Ratty" Springer, 24, of Cipriani Avenue, where they ordered a woman who was lying in his bed, and a man who was in another room, out of the house. They said, several gunshots were heard shortly after and officers took away Springer who was still alive. He was later declared dead at the Mt Hope hospital.
Police claimed Springer was armed with a gun and shot at them.
In all cases of fatal shootings by police, the PCA is involved but residents said they have not met any of the investigators yet.
Supt Roger Alexander, speaking on Monday’s Beyond the Tape programme on TV6, said some Second Caledonia residents were praising the police "silently" after Springer was killed. He showed photos of Springer in his bed armed with a rifle in one hand and a bottle of puncheon in the other.
Alexander said police went to execute a warrant at Springer's home and he emerged with a gun. The officers, Alexander said, fired at Springer as they believe he was "going to kill the officers."
He said there is a gang in Second Caledonia targeting people's homes in a bid to take items away, and referred to a recent incident where the gang members went a home at Ellerslie Park, Maraval.
"When we target them they complain about us," he said, adding that such people should ask themselves "why police targeting you."
"Some people are a menace to society and have to be dealt with in a lawful way."
Alexander later showed images from CCTV footage showing two men loading items from a home invasion at Ellerslie Park in the trunk of a blue Toyota Aqua car. In one of the images, one of the men, with a red bandanna across his face, appeared to be holding a silver gun in his hand. Alexander said several people have been arrested in connection with the home invasion where the homeowners were tied up.
Police said on Saturday three men were detained and a quantity of US currency and household items said to be stolen were recovered. A fourth man is being sought in connection with the crime. He said anyone with information useful to the police should contact the nearest station or call the emergency hotline 555.
However, residents are disputing the police account of the shooting and said while Springer was no saint "it was not the police job to be judge, jury and ..." since that was the function of the courts.
Relatives said they have not been able to see Springer's body since Saturday. They claim they were told, when they went to the Mt Hope hospital mortuary, that the body was sent to a private funeral home pending an autopsy, and they were not getting any answers from the Morvant police station.
After Springer's death, two music videos were shared on social media, and images on Beyond the Tape showed men armed with what looked like rifles and pistols. Springer is seen holding two weapons in the video.
On June 27, 2020, the police killing of three men at Juman Drive, Second Caledonia, triggered several protest over three days after a group of 18 officers from the Guard and Emergency Branch and Inter-Agency Task Force intercepted a car in the district.
That investigation is drawing to a close by a special task force led by Supt Wayne Abbott, and the PCA has a significant input in that case.