Lawyer claims cops arrested to quell public disquiet

Ulric Skerritt  -
Ulric Skerritt -

One of the attorneys for a group of officers detained in a homicide investigation arising out of the police killing for three men in Morvant just over two years ago said the arrest of his clients seems to be influenced by public pressure to charge officers in the face of a rash of police killings which have sparked public condemnation.

In a statement, Ulric Skerritt, a former police officer, said he was "saddened by the turn of events."

"Whilst I am always on the side of law and order and like any citizen expects that officers must be true to their oath, it has become a disturbing trend when statements which are diametrically opposed to that of officers involved in shootings are taken as credible and the question of inquests are abandoned."

"We have armed our officers to protect the lives of citizens including their own. However, the latest trend seems to be to bow to public pressure and seek to charge officers on the flimsiest of evidence 'they never had nutten.' This is clearly dangerous and will have the ultimate effect of officers becoming quite hesitant to use their firearms in the face of lethal attacks to their own detriment and that of members is public."

Skerritt said the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard SC, an independent office holder, to visit the scene of the crime is "clearly taking on the role of investigative rather than an advisory one."

He also criticised the Police Complaints Authority, an independent civilian oversight body, whose job is to investigate serious acts of misconduct, including murder, by police officers for making public comments in its findings on matters which are still under police investigation.

Skerritt says such statements have "the effect of being severely prejudicial to the investigation and the mind of the public"

He urged, "restraint is necessary."

Six of the officers who were detained are being represented by Skerritt and a team of attorneys led by senior counsel Israel Khan. The are to be questioned under caution about their role in the June 27, 2020 shooting incident at Juman Drive, Second Caledonia, Morvant where Joel Jacob, Noel Diamond and Israel Moses Clinton were killed.

While Skerritt did not identify any recent comment by the PCA, acting CoP McDonald Jacob has also urged caution and the risk of pre-trial publicity after the body stated that it found the worst case of abuse by officers of the Western Division who deliberately misled Jacob in the shooting incident on April 22, at Richplain, Diego Martin where PC Clarence Gilkes was killed.

Officers had claimed Gilkes was shot during a confrontation by men armed with rifles but an autopsy showed that a police bullet killed Gilkes and the suspect, Jehalno Romney, who was being hunted for the officer's murder is now the key witness against at least three police officers, now on suspension, in a homicide investigation.

The head of the division, Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, has also been transferred to the Transport and Telecom Branch during the probe.


"Lawyer claims cops arrested to quell public disquiet"

More in this section