(Trinidad Guardian) The death of an elderly man who was struck and killed by a police vehicle while attempting to cross the Priority Bus Route in Barataria — the second fatal accident involving a police officer in three days — has prompted the Commissioner of Police to get personally involved in the investigations of both matters.
Michael Barry, 73, was attempting to cross the roadway near 3rd Street, Barataria at around 11 am yesterday when he was struck.
He had already made it halfway across the road when he was hit by Rapid Response Unit SUV which was heading east along the PBR. He was killed instantly.
Barry, who was said to be a former employee of TTPost, lived at Locust Hill, Barataria.
CCTV video of the incident shared on social media, seemed to show the police vehicle speeding. It was unclear if the police vehicle made any attempt to slow down as there were no brake impressions.
Barry used a pedestrian crossing, although faded, along the PBR which is accompanied by flashing amber lights as well as a sign indicating its presence.
When Guardian Media visited the scene many onlookers expressed anger and questioned why the police vehicle was travelling at such a high speed. Witnesses said the vehicle’s siren was not on.
Barry’s death caused traffic heading east along the PBR to be diverted onto the Eastern Main Road at Sixth Avenue, while investigators processed the scene. His body was removed around 2 pm.
The fatality prompted Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to release a statement addressing the incident as well as another accident which claimed the life of another pedestrian Shervon Medina three days ago.
Medina, 46, was killed after being struck while on a pavement along the Diego Martin Main Road by a car believed to be driven by a Special Reserve Police officer on Tuesday.
In that incident, the officer, while driving his personal vehicle south along the main road, attempted to bypass a car ahead of him that was about to turn onto Salandy Street. In the process, the officer reportedly clipped the driver’s side of the other car before mounting the pavement where Medina was walking.
CCTV video of that incident was also widely shared on social media.
Numerous residents said the driver of the car was speeding, although that segment of the roadway was a school zone with a 30 kmph speed limit.
Residents were also angered when the driver of the other vehicle in the accident, who did not hit Medina, was taken away from the scene in handcuffs prompting fears that the officers were seeking to cover-up for their colleague.
The SRP was not taken into custody, and up to yesterday, no charges had been laid against him.
The Commissioner has ordered an internal review of Police Service’s driving standards.
He confirmed that the officers involved in both cases had their driving privileges of the TTPS immediately suspended.
The statement also extended condolences to the families of the victims for their immeasurable loss.
Barry’s death came almost two months after 82-year-old Margaret Sandy was killed instantly after a Regiment truck collided with a car at the intersection of the Priority Bus Route and Pasea Main Road, Tunapuna, on January 21. That investigation is still ongoing. The driver of the Regiment vehicle has been confined to base pending the conclusion of the probe.
The latest death brings the number of people killed in road traffic accidents for the year to 32.