For the second time this week, villagers blocked the Moruga Road in St Mary’s Village with burning debris in protest over the police-related killing of resident Vernrick Hudlin.
With tempers mirroring the raging heat from the burning tires, villagers and relatives vowed to continue protesting until they get justice for Hudlin.
Hudlin, 54, fondly called Myman, who worked and lived at the Gomez Trace Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Ridge View community, was fatally shot on Saturday by an off-duty police officer.
The officer attached to the Special Investigative Unit resides in the community not far away from the plant. The officer reported that Hudlin attacked him with a cutlass following an altercation.
The villagers’ anger, however, was also directed at the Insp Alexander, co-host of the Beyond The Tape television programme. They accused Alexander of trying to influence public opinion by showing in slow motion a certain part of the video footage of the incident.
Resident Hesper Ali charged, “As a man in the police force you know there is a police investigation but you playing with the minds of the people by showing what you want to show. Why didn’t you show the complete video where they pull up on this gentleman who is minding his own business. Where on that video did you see a police officer come out of that vehicle, you saw two civilians. Suppose now let us put it on the civilian side now, is a robbery in progress and the man defending himself.”
Ali also questioned why the men did not call the nearby St Mary’s Police Post instead of putting Hudlin in their vehicle and driving away.
“This humble man is dead and at the end of the day, people are hurt. They are angry.”
She added, “If you don’t know, hush up Mr Alexander. We want justice for Mr Hudlin and we will get justice because eight years ago we went through this and it is not going to repeat itself again. In Jesus name, we will get justice.”
Ali said Hudlin lived and worked in the community for about six years and was loved by the villagers. Hudlin’s cousin and president of the Ridge View community group Colin Morris said the community wants to hear from Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
“We want to hear the Commissioner of Police at least say something because we cannot have police just self-defence power and it easy to say self-defence, the individual had a blade, I believe the footage is there for us to see and that alone speaks for itself.”
Hudlin’s brother Justin Diaz said the family is still clueless as to what is taking place with the investigation. He said the police never officially spoke to them about the matter. Diaz complained that the police lied to them about where Hudlin’s body was being kept.
“They continue to give us lies and we don’t know what is going on.”
He said they will not back down and allow his brother’s killing to be swept under the carpet.
“The villagers decided to hold another protest today because at the end of the day we are all fed up of this. We really want answers as to what is going on and we want justice because my brother was a very loving man in this whole community. You could ask anybody in the whole community, he was loved by everyone, no one has anything bad to say about him. But his life was taken and we not supposed to be staying quiet about that. We not going to stay quiet.”
Speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service press briefing yesterday, Griffith said the TTPS and the Police Complaint Authority have launched two separate investigations into the incident. Asked whether the officer has been suspended, the Commissioner said he is awaiting the preliminary findings of the investigation before making a decision. Ag Supt Nobie of the Southern Division is investigating the incident.