Friends and family carry the casket of Kern Richards from the house of mourning in Icacos Village to the church yesterday.

Grieving friends and relatives of Icacos fisherman Kern “Cava” Richards were urged not to seek revenge but forgive the officers who took his life. The call was made by Father Dexter Mitchell during an emotional service at the St Patrick RC Church in Cedros yesterday.

Under the watchful eyes of police officers, the casket bearing Richards’ body was first taken to his home where scores of mourners were gathered. Unable to contain her grief, his mother Michelle Richards gently stroked his face as she cried out.

Some people wore jerseys with his name and photos printed on them, while others placed cigarettes and bottles of beers in his casket.

This was followed by a vehicular procession, accompanied by a music truck, to the church. Richards, 38, a father of one, was shot and killed by the police at his home on April 9 during a search for arms and ammunition.

Police said a gun was found at the house but relatives claimed he did not own a gun.

“You could be very hurting and they may want to talk about revenge. But there are two things you could want, justice or you could want revenge. Revenge is really the poison of the soul.”

Reminding them that when Jesus was being crucified on the cross he called on God to forgive them, Mitchell said, “We have to forgive but is hard. It will take a long time to forgive, very, very, long but we have to forgive. It is not easy. When you see those who persecute you, you say to them peace be with you. That’s a theology that I know is very difficult, that if somebody is doing something terrible to you, how could you find it in your heart to forgive.”

Noting that he too had unpleasant encounters with the police, he said, “My dear family, I don’t want you to look at every police officer as a bad police officer. Leave it up to God. Let’s hope that the justice system in the country do what they have to do.”

He encouraged them to keep praying because prayers will help them through this difficult time. In the eulogy, Richards’ friend Ancel Lemmesy said he loved Venezuela and spoke Spanish fluently.

Always respectful to elders and those in authority, he said Richards loved to have fun, party, play pranks on his friends, was always well-dressed and all the girls loved him.

He said Richards served on the Icacos Youth Group, coached football and helped them.

“We will deeply miss your laughter. Our community has been robbed,” he lamented.

To Richards’ 11-year-old son, he said, “Your father left a legacy of peace, joy, humility and unity.” During the emotional outpouring, several mourners wore no masks and there was no social distancing. The burial took place at the Fullerton Cemetery.

­—Sascha Wilson