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PCA recommends disciplinary action against constable

MIRANDA LA ROSE Saturday, January 7 2017

THE Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has forwarded its investigative file to the Commissioner of Police to consider disciplinary action against a police constable for failing to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of fisherman Brian Smith, 30, in November 2015.

Smith’s body was found floating in waters off Trinidad’s west coast on November 21, 2015. His family did not believe he drowned.

They believed he was killed by a group of soldiers.

The PCA has also recommended that further investigation be conducted by the Homicide Bureau “relevant to the identities of the soldiers and their reports/ statements, reports from the district medical officer and first responders to the scene of the incident etc, and confirmation that the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is investigating the alleged involvement of their officers” in Smith’s death.

In a letter dated December 1, 2016 to one of Smith’s relatives who filed a complaint, PCA Director, David West said that the PCA has concluded its investigations into the complaint “which contained allegations of neglect of duty against (officer named) for the failure to efficiently and thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding (Smith’s) death.” After careful perusal of the evidence gathered in the matter, West said, the PCA has found merit in the allegations made, and has forwarded its investigative file to the office of the Commissioner of Police to consider disciplinary action against the officer. On November 23, 2015, Smith’s mother Gloria had told Newsday that her son had an altercation with a group of soldiers two days before in the Carenage area where they were repairing a house which was damaged by a TTDF helicopter a few weeks before.

During the altercation, she said, her son was struck with a shovel in his stomach.

She said he had told her that some soldiers had beaten him because “he was talking, and he was not taking that.” She also said she told him that “that when it comes to military people, as a poor man you don’t get justice, so I told him, ‘the most you could do is take a little rest, and when you done tell the police’.” She said he had also related to relatives in the area what had happened but no one had come to his defence. She had claimed that the soldiers were drinking alcohol while they worked.

Some 20 minutes after speaking to Brian, she said she got a phone call in which she was informed that he had drowned.

She claimed he was “a very good swimmer” and could not understand how he drowned.

Gloria said someone from the area claimed they had seen the soldiers hit Brian in his face with a shovel and then throw him in the sea.

A first autopsy performed by Government forensic pathologist Dr Eslyn McDonald-Burris at the Forensic Science Centre declared that Smith had drowned.

A second autopsy done by Dr Hughvon des Vignes at the request of the family showed that Smith died from blunt force trauma to the head and was possibly already dead when he entered the water. The autopsy revealed blunt force trauma, a cracked skull, and several other visible signs of violence to the body.



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