Cop arrested over Courts Megastore shooting case

The police officer got arrested for questioning about shooting at the Courts Megastore on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway on Thursday.

Police investigating death of Jimmy Allen in Basseterre shooting . Image Credit: Facebook, RSVG Police Force
Police investigating death of Jimmy Allen in Basseterre shooting . Image Credit: Facebook, RSVG Police Force

Trinidad and Tobago: The police officer involved in the shooting incident at the Courts Megastore on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in San Juan town of Trinidad was arrested for questioning on the night of Thursday, 21 December.

As per the reports, the officer will be interviewed by the investigators before the consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard.

The police, in their statement, said that they responded to the report about the incident at the megastore in which a police officer used his personal firearm to shoot five people, in which two individuals got killed.

The victims were later identified as Simeon Lessey and his sister Sinaaya Lessey. The other three individuals who got wounded in the act were the wife of Simeon, Kerry Ann Moore, a family friend and an unidentified man.

A relative of Lessey said, “ They all went to meet someone who promised to get them a few items at an affordable price but refused later and wanted to cancel their transaction.”

Relatives said, “Sinaaya reported the initial transaction to the police and planned to meet the person at the car parking of Courts Megastore to get the money back.”

The National Security Council (NSC), led by the Prime Minister, held a special meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff, Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood Christopher, Air Vice Marshall Darryl Daniel, and the director of the Security Services Agency on Monday.

Dr Rowley said in a statement given after the meeting, “The NSC decided to take note of the relevant laws, regulations and practices around certain aspects of the operations of the police in the wake of the Courts shooting.”

Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) president Gideon Dickson said in the statement on the issue that “The Government must not take personal firearms away from police officers as it is not exactly known which aspects of police operations would be reviewed.”

Dickson said, “The police officers have the same rights to access Firearms as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, for their own protection and also others as police officers.”

He added in his statement that the incident which happened at the parking of Courts Megastore was not a police operation but an isolated civil issue.

Dickson also pointed out how the NSC can make decisions over police investigations based on the incident without getting a final conclusion from the investigation.

Dickson, in his statement, said about the police service, “A police officer works 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. The society of Trinidad and Tobago has degenerated considerably, so we are those who are faced with hotspot areas in every community.”

“We face AK 47s, AR 15s, 5.56mm rounds and 7.62mm rounds nearly on a daily basis.” He added.

Dickson continued, “Do you really want criminals who do not have to sign off and sign on their firearms always to have the upper hand on the police? We believe all police officers should have a secondary weapon once they meet the criteria.”

Dickson took his whole side in favour of the police officers and said about their responsibility, “If a police officer is present during an incident on his rest day and he fails to respond, he could either be liable for criminal negligence or given a disciplinary charge.”

Dickson described the NSC meeting as premature and unfortunate, also it could harm the ongoing investigation.

He said, “Any review of the police operations, as described in the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, falls under the remit of the Commissioner of Police and the Police Service Commission.”

“We already have several entities dealing with this investigation, and they will also look at operations while they make their recommendations,” he declared.

Dickson mentioned, “On the other hand, we have inefficient laws, spiralling crime and challenges in terms of human and physical resources, and no real effort is being made by those in authority to address these things.”

The people in the community who are in support of the victim’s family are happy with his arrest and that he is behind bars.

One among the public said about the incident, “He should have been arrested on the same day of the incident. Is five people he shot, killing two.”

The case is moving forward and getting complex due to the involvement of a police officer in the issue.

People in the community are looking forward to the conclusion of the shooting case and asking for justice while it still needs to be seen where the evidence will lead.