As the hunt continues for the suspects who escaped following Wednesday’s fatal shootout between bandits and the police at South Ruimveldt Park, the family of Edgar Blackman, one of the two men killed, is still questioning the circumstances under which he met his death.
Blackman, Sherwin James, and two other bandits had invaded the home of Arlene McLean and robbed her of an undisclosed sum of cash before taking off for another house, where they were thwarted by the police.
Assistant Commissioner (Operations) David Ramnarine stated yesterday that the hunt for the other two suspects was still ongoing.
Diane Blackman, the mother of Edgar, and his brother, Chris Carroll, strongly believe that the police could have avoided killing him.
Blackman maintained that while she wasn’t aware of her son owning a gun or whether he was involved in the robbery, she is convinced that the police could have dealt with the situation without having to kill the two men.
“They were in the tank. The black water tank that was supposedly full with water. I don’t see how they woulda know to shoot at the police. I don’t see how they woulda see through the tank to know where the police were,” Carroll added.
Paul Morrison, the owner of the yard where the shooting took place, had told Stabroek News that after about 25 police officers had surrounded the area and had a shootout with the men, they hid in the tank at the back of the yard. He had stated that the police were made aware of their hiding place after they saw the cover of the tank on the ground and a red hat that belonged to one of the bandits. However, while he was not there when the gunfire began, as he was ordered to go back inside by the officers, he said that another stream of gunfire started and when he peeked he saw holes in the tank and water flowing through it. He went on to state that one of the officers asked him for a cutlass, which he used to cut open the tank and pull the two bodies out of the barrel. Speaking to Stabroek News again yesterday, Morrison confirmed that the two men were inside the tank at the time they were killed and he heard gunfire from both sides. However, the police had stated in a press release that contrary to what had been reported, the men did not hide in the tank but were behind it.
Questions are also being raised as to why the police officers would have to cut open the tank if the two men were indeed hiding behind the tank rather than inside. “It don’t make no sense at all. They knew how many officers were around. Why would they hide in a tank and think they could take out all those officers from in there?” Carroll questioned, while adding that if the reports are correct and the men were inside of the tank, it didn’t add up that they would fire towards the police officers first.
Edgar Blackman’s relatives are appealing to the public and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to launch an investigation into the matter. When questioned if the OPR would be launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the two men, Ramnarine said, “At this point in time I am not aware of a formal complaint of excess on behalf of the police.” He added that he believed that the ranks, despite the danger presented to themselves, showed excellent courage and bravery in dealing with the criminals, whether they were in or out of the water tank. “If you are dealing with live rounds and shooting at law enforcement officers, it is very easy to determine what the consequences will be,” he said.