Autopsies of teenage T&T cousins disprove eyewitness accounts of police killings

(Trinidad Guardian) The autopsies of teenage cousins—Hakeem, 16, and Tevin Alexander, 15—disprove some eyewitness accounts that the boys were kneeling when they were shot by police. According to the autopsies, which were conducted by Hughvon des Vignes at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, yesterday, the boys were shot several times about the body. Some of the bullets exited and ricocheted from nearby objects and re-entered the teens’ body.

Lisa De Leon-Alexander, mother of shooting victim Tevin, shows a photo of her son on her phone.
Lisa De Leon-Alexander, mother of shooting victim Tevin, shows a photo of her son on her phone.

The autopsy showed both boys were shot from in front, with one receiving a gunshot injury to the back. The report said bullets also pierced the upper thigh of one boy and went through the knee, in an upwards direction, in the other boy. The pathologist also found that in one case the bullet jacket peeled off and was lodged in the chest of one victim, while the slug entered the chest area, which showed that the bullets were not fired from close range.

During the autopsy, police took a man who identified the two dead boys as his attackers, who had pointed a gun at him and shot at him. The cousins, who were the 25th and 26th victims of police killings so far this year, were also shot while facing their shooters and Tevin was shot more than his elder cousin, the autopsies concluded.

Speaking to the media at the FSC yesterday, Lisa De Leon-Alexander, Tevin’s mother, said the cousins were shot in the head, chest, legs and arms. Hakeem’s mother Suzette Alexander also viewed the autopsies with De Leon-Alexander. De Leon-Alexander described the sight of her son and nephew as “heinous.”

According to eyewitness reports at the scene at Superville Hill, Morvant, on Monday, police ordered the boys to go on their knees and put their hands up before shooting them.

Another witness who spoke to the T&T Guardian during a telephone interview yesterday, said she witnessed the boys’ killing and denied that they had fired at the lawmen. According to police, the teenagers were killed after they shot at policemen when they responded to report of shooting in the community. Police said around 4.15 pm police of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) and the North Eastern Division Task Force responded to reports of gunshots at Wallace Road, Chinapoo, Morvant.

When they arrived they were reportedly shot at and returned fire, fatally hitting the cousins, who were pronounced dead on arrival at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex, Mt Hope. In yet another twist yesterday, a resident of the area said the teens were being pursued as possible recruits by gang leaders in Chinapoo,

Morvant.  “There are two fellas who come into the community to torment the youth men and try to get them to become Muslim and join the gangs,” the resident said, naming the two men involved in that process.

He added: “These men come around when the youths are liming, playing cards or football. They put on masks and pull out their guns and people are afraid.

“Up to last Saturday a group of people were gambling by the road and he (name called) ran up on them and pulled out the gun.

“These youth men weren’t on gun and thing. They would smoke weed, gamble and lime but they were not any bad boys.”

The resident disagreed with reports that the boys were involved in criminal activity, particularly Hakeem, who was a long-distance runner who won a Carifta bronze medal for T&T last year.

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