Marlon Callender, the former guard who is on trial for the fatal shooting of fisherman Envil Pollard at the Pritipaul Singh Investments wharf, did not have any training in the use of firearms, according to the records of the Guyana Police Force.
The prosecution yesterday closed its case against Callender, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge that he murdered Pollard on January 29th, 2015.
The accused, according to a caution statement that was tendered into evidence yesterday, admitted to shooting Pollard, whom he said had been advancing towards him with a knife.
Read to the court and unchallenged by the defence, the statement detailed that Callender, who had been a security guard at the wharf, repeatedly warned Pollard not to fish in the area, which was private property.
The court then heard that it was at this point that the accused said he fired a warning shot at Pollard, who disregarded his warnings and instead ventured further in under the wharf.
Callender, according to the statement, said that Pollard then climbed out of his boat unto the wharf with a “Rambo knife.” At that point, the court heard, the accused again warned the deceased not to come any closer.
Despite the warning, the court heard from the statement that Pollard continued advancing towards the accused and it was at that point he was shot at again, causing him to fall off the wharf and into his boat.
Testifying before the close of the state’s case yesterday was Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Clifton Davis, who said that after perusing the Guyana Police Force’s files, he found that the accused had not received any training in the use of a firearm.
The witness told the court that it is compulsory for all licensed firearm handlers to be trained in the use of firearms and to be acquainted with the circumstances under which they are to be used.
The records, even for firearm handlers of private entities and security firms, he explained, are kept with the Guyana Police Force.
Providing the general guidelines which he said were used by Pritipaul Singh Investments, its Security Supervisor Collis Grant had told the court that firearm handlers were allowed to fire only when there was an apprehension of serious danger or where one is unable to defend oneself.
He said, too, that one fires only when fired upon and if the opponent is still approaching, then you disable him.
According to Grant, it is common procedure for guards to always be reminded about these guidelines by the chief security officer before they are issued with firearms for duty.
Endorsing these guidelines, ASP Davis said that it must always be borne in mind that the shooting action is to first apprehend and not to kill and so it is advised that the target be shot at the lower limbs—from the waist down.
He clarified, however, that in an “aggressive” scenario, there may be the need for an equally aggressive return of gunfire with swift accuracy. He noted that an unintended target should never be hit and advanced this as the reason for accuracy and precision.
The ASP said that in such an aggressive situation, the aim is to hit all and every target—whether stationary, moving or fleeing. The circumstances, he emphasised, would dictate the firearm handler’s response.
Meanwhile, according to the deposition of witness Terrence Phillips, who the prosecution said it was unable to locate, employees at the wharf had had several previous confrontations with Pollard, who continued fishing in the area, despite repeated warnings and visible no trespassing signs at the location.
Phillips, a former employee of Pritipaul Singh Investments, had recalled chasing Pollard away from under the wharf and the 200ft prohibited fishing area—often without success. He said even if Pollard did leave, he would continually return.
The court heard from Phillips’ deposition that on the day of the killing he chased Pollard away from fishing at the wharf, but the man, who began cursing him, refused to leave.
As a result, the court heard that it was at this point that Phillips decided to radio Callender, who was at the front of the compound. He said he reported to Callender that Pollard was ignoring his directives to remove from the area.
According to the deposition, the accused, who was armed at the time, went down to the wharf and spoke to Pollard about not fishing in the area.
Some moments after, Phillips, according to the deposition, said he heard loud explosions like that of gunshots.
Ashmoo Khan, Pollards common-law wife, had previously testified that for the 25 years she had known him, the Pritipaul Singh wharf was among the several areas where he fished.
Desmond Sancho, who had also testified, said that like Pollard, he also fished at the Pritipaul Singh wharf.
He acknowledged that while the location was indeed a private fishing area, fishing was made possible for external fishermen like himself by paying a fee to the “gunman” attached to the wharf.
He said that the fee was about $5,000 to $6,000, which had to be paid every Saturday and he described the arrangement as a regular practice.
Chief Security Officer of Pritipaul Investments Lionel Mullin had said that while the area where Pollard was shot was a private fishing space, which belonged to Pritipaul Investment and was bordered by several “no trespassing” signs, other fishermen would often still fished in the prohibited area.
He had told the court that those fishermen were quite aware of the boundaries, yet disregarded the signs even though reports were often made. He said security officers repeatedly chased them away, but to no avail.
This witness had also told the court that the company had had several previous confrontations with Pollard and he mentioned him “colluding” with company employees to steal fish.
Mullin said that those employees had admitted to the act. He said, too, that he had once seen Pollard driving his boat from beneath the wharf.
The chief security officer emphasised that like the other fishermen, who still frequent the area, Pollard was never given permission to fish at the location.
Cedric Greene, the nephew of the deceased, who worked at Pritipaul Singh’s as a labourer, had, however, refuted claims of there ever being no-trespassing signs at the location. He remained adamant that there were none.
The state’s case is being led by Prosecutor Lisa Cave, in association with Mandel Moore, while Callender is being represented by defence attorney Everton Singh-Lammy.
The trial continues on Monday morning at the Georgetown High Court before Justice Sandil Kissoon, who is expected to rule on certain legal submissions made by both sides.