(Trinidad Express) The five men shot and killed on Thursday night opened fire on police officers as they were about to execute a search warrant at a home in Trou Macaque, Laventille, Trinidad.
This is the version of events being reported by police officers who say they had no choice but to use deadly force in defence of their lives.
However, relatives of the men are disputing the claims, saying that the men surrendered when the police arrived.
And the killings have attracted the attention of the Police Complaints Authority which yesterday afternoon said that an investigation had been launched into the conduct of the police officers involved.
Dead are: Shaquille ‘Crash’ Francois, Mishack Douglas, 24, Nicholas Barker, Kadeem Phillip and Shondell St Clair.
They are among 35 people killed by the police this year. Police have been involved in at least 28 deadly encounters this year.
Several of the men are suspected in a series of gun related crimes including shootings, robberies and the killing of a gang leader known as “Cow Man” in Laventille earlier this year.
Shortly before 10 p.m., officers of the Inter Agency Task Force were about to execute the warrant at Douglas’ home at Upper Wharton Street.
The warrant allowed officers to search for arms and ammunition.
However, when the officers entered the premises, they said they were shot at.
The officers returned fire, hitting all five men who were in the house. One died at the scene. Four died at the Port of Spain General Hospital.
Video captured at the scene show a chaotic scene, with women wailing as the mortally wounded men are taken from the scene.
Yesterday, the grandmother of one of the dead men told the media: They surrender. They put up their hands. They do so (demonstrating with hands above her head)”.
She said the men told the police “ officer, we doh have nothing…and they still shoot. Oh God”.
The grandmother said the police were not telling the truth, and that the officers dragged the dying men “like dogs’ to the police vehicles and took them away.
“If you see blood all in the yard. We had to wash it down last night. I couldn’t sleep last night”, said the elderly woman.
One of the officers was shot in the chest but was not seriously injured having been saved by his bullet-proof vest.
Two firearms were reportedly recovered at the scene.
Early on Friday, the protests began. The roads in Laventille were blocked with burning debris.
Some resident say the police executed the men, and there was no exchange of gunfire.
On social media, posts have emerged with videos and images purportedly of the some of the dead suspects covered in hundred dollar bills, holding guns, doing drugs, and threatening to kill.