Attorney Om Lalla

In light of CCTV footage raising questions about what happened with the police shooting of three men in Second Caledonia, Morvant on Saturday, attorney Om Lalla believes an immediate preliminary investigation will serve to quell escalating tensions and guide Police Commissioner Gary Griffith on the way forward.

Lalla noted that the video had created a “huge outcry.”

“What is required is an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the police shooting. There were two sides of the story where the police came out and said they acted in self-defence justifiably. However, there seems to be some uncertainty in light of the video and it warrants an immediate investigation whether it’s by the police or the Police Complaints Authority to find out whether or not there was any negligence surrounding on the part of the police or any other party involved.”

He added: “The fact is apparently there were witnesses around and that is why a swift investigation would be required. I don’t want to come to a conclusion based on that video footage alone but taking statements from the people who were in the vicinity to see whether that video is corroborating on anything. Saying anything at this stage would be premature in light of the tension existing in the Morvant area.”

The attorney explained that the world has changed with regard to policing.

“We have seen the recent case of the Floyd killing and what it resulted worldwide in the movements and the attack that the police have been under in the United States and the responsible position that they have had to take in re-examining their position,” he said.

He added, “It’s not just similar in T&T. The world has changed with regard to the police’s interaction with citizens and any incident like this that is not handled properly has the potential to escalate very quickly.

“The management of it, where the tensions are high, the emotions are high, people are under real tension with COVID, the experience of unemployment, society is in a very tense place the is why it is very critical that this needs to be managed.”

Asked on calls being made for the suspensions of the officers involved, Lalla replied: “If there is some type of overwhelming evidence there is justification to suspend officers and where there is uncertainty and a swift investigation is required then the officer should be suspended or put on leave and that’s why timing is critical in a matter so that however quickly a preliminary investigation is conducted it will give guidance to the Commissioner of Police has to how to move forward with this.”

—Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant