‘I am sorry’
By RYAN HAMILTON-DAVIS and JULIEN NEAVES Tuesday, June 24 2014
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SORRY: Kerwin Rodriguez, brother of 19-year-old Kishawn Daniel, who was shot dead by police on the weekend, speaks to reporters yesterday outside the ...
KERWIN RODRIGUEZ, the brother of Kishawn Daniel who was shot dead by police on Saturday, yesterday apologised to police for statements he made that were construed as being a threat to the lives of officers involved in the fatal shooting.
“I am just coming out to let the public know that I am sorry for the statement that was made to the police. I am a law-abiding citizen. I have no matters before the courts. I am a working man and I’m not in any friction with anyone.
“It was because of vexation that I made those remarks and I hope the police and the public can forgive me for what I said in anger,” Rodriguez told reporters outside the Forensic Science Centre in St James, where he and other relatives went to collect the autopsy report on his 19-year-old brother.
Rodriguez’s statement, recorded and played on the airwaves on Sunday in a radio station’s midday news, led to an angry response by Insp Roger Alexander, vice president of the Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) who said the police are at war with the criminals and officers will meet deadly force in a similar manner.
Rodriguez yesterday maintained his call for justice in his brother’s shooting death at the hands of the police. Officers have since claimed they were engaged in a shootout with Daniel and returned fire, hitting the teen who later died. The incident led to fiery street protests. “I still want justice for my brother because I know that he had no firearm on him,” Rodriguez said.
Top Cop: Police helping Laventille youths
Meanwhile, in responding to Alexander’s statement of officers being at war with criminals, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday said the police are involved in projects in Laventille to keep youths away from crime and their focus is not to kill them. So far this year, there have been 30 persons killed by police in shootouts.
“The Police Service is not focusing on killing young people or anyone for that matter,” Williams said. He said the use of the term “war” by Alexander was simply that the police are engaging criminal elements, most of whom are heavily armed and have no qualms at maiming or killing persons including law enforcement officers.
“I prefer not to use the term ‘war’ because people tend to turn it around in different ways. But let me be clear on this...we will not allow criminals in anyway to get the upper hand on law-abiding citizens,” Williams stressed.
“When they shoot back and someone is killed, people say ‘another one killed by police’. But the police will continue to do their work in the difficult task of policing Trinidad generally especially in socially depressed communities like Laventille,” he said.
He said the Police Service will continue to focus on trying to make a positive difference in Laventille and noted that there are several good things happening with police involvement. He noted, for example, a major initiative by young men in the Laventille area of St Barb’s.
“Young men in their teens have called out for help. They don’t want to live that life of violence and gangs and being killed,” he said. He noted the initiative, as yet unnamed, features numerous NGOs, Government agencies and the police working together to support young men so they can be effectively developed, educated and trained.
“So it’s not about the Police Service turning its eyes away from Laventille and only treating with things in a certain way.
“We are extending our hand to all people in Laventille. That is what the Police Service is involved in...trying to make a positive difference in the lives of young people,” he said.
Williams added that the Hearts and Minds team from the Inter-Agency Task Force is also working with these young men and women.
Continuing in Laventille, Williams reported that a series of youth clubs have been triggered within 2014 to assist young people to direct their pathway.
“So it’s not about the Police Service turning its eyes away from Laventille and only treating with things in one way. We are extending our hand to see that the young people in Laventille have a future. That is what the Police Service is involved in trying to make a positive difference in the lives of young people,” he said.
He said the majority of people in Laventille are good people but there is a minority “hellbent on creating the extensive violence that will hurt, injure or kill others in Laventille”.
“The vocal few is not the majority. The vocal few is the vocal few. What you find is the majority in Laventille silent,” he said. He said with the level of violence in the community people are afraid to share information with the police.