Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said yesterday that a full-scale investigation is being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of suspects Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon while in police custody.
The two men were among five held for the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt, 23, whose body was discovered on February 4 in the Heights of Aripo.
The Commissioner insisted there will be no cover-up, saying his track record speaks for itself while pointing to several police officers facing prosecution for various crimes.
In a statement issued to the medial yesterday, Griffith said that aside from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) conducting an investigation, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is presently conducting a parallel probe.
Since the death of the two suspects, there have been calls by members of the public for a proper investigation.
There are reports that a video captured Morris being beaten by police.
“People are reaching a final conclusion without knowing what has transpired. We are doing a thorough investigation both by the Police Service and the PCA,” Griffith said.
He continued, “For persons to be making false and misleading accusations, it is not helping the situation in any way. It is inappropriate for people to be making accusations and who by their accusations, have already found police officers guilty without getting the facts. These would include the Law Association, an Opposition Senator, and a person who received one per cent of the votes in an area he contested in an election. I have heard comments about a prisoner dying after falling from a chair. At no time did any police officer or myself, say that an individual died because he fell from a chair. That never took place.”
He added police officers who were part of the investigation into Bharatt’s kidnapping and death should be commended for finding the four suspects involved.
Griffith added that no one has asked about the well-being of the officers who were injured when they went to arrest suspects in this matter.
Police’s account on Morris’ death
According to investigators, members of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) went to Morris’ home at Tumpuna Road, Arima, around 3.30 am on January 31 where they informed him of the kidnapping report and that he was under arrest. Investigators said that Morris immediately began to act violently when the attempt was made to arrest him. During his attempt to resist arrest, Morris reportedly fell on the ground and in so doing also caused an officer to fall.
Morris, police said, continued to struggle with the officers and resisted efforts to subdue him. He was eventually subdued and was allowed to put on clothing by his wife. He was offered medical attention however he responded, “I is a big man I good”.
Morris remained in police custody during that day and was offered meals which he refused. He, however, accepted only water and juice which he consumed. Morris was offered to see a doctor at the hospital again during the day, but he again refused stating that he was ok.
Police say Morris was taken to the Arima hospital in order to obtain a medical report and while being attended to, Morris who was seated on a chair, fell over and had to be assisted.
He later went to another room to give a urine sample and again fell and had to be assisted. He was subsequently taken to the emergency room for treatment where he was pronounced dead around 12:45 am on February 1 by Dr Chunie Singh.
Investigators were informed that Morris was hypertensive and diabetic.”