Police ‘friendly fire’ case begins in court
From the Courts
May 31, 2013

Police ‘friendly fire’ case begins in court

Poor coordination by police when responding to a tip that a drug operation was taking place, could be why Corporal 351 Milford Edwards was shot by a fellow officer.{{more}}

In testimony at the Serious Offences Court on Wednesday, Police Constable 296 Davis said that when Sergeant Julius Morgan was asked by another police officer why Edwards was shot, Morgan said “Nobody told me police was down here. I said ‘police, police’ and I saw a man coming towards me with a gun and I shoot. All they told me is a boat there down Bottom Town loading drugs.”

On December 5, 2012, police received an anonymous tip that a drug operation was being carried out on the beach at Rose Place, popularly known as Bottom Town.

During the operation, Edwards, a member of the Narcotics Unit (Drug Squad) was shot in his upper right arm.

Morgan and PC 335 Orlando Collins, both of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), are facing five charges, including unlawful and malicious wounding, unlawful discharging of a firearm, excessive use of force, acting in a manner so rash or so negligent as to be likely to cause harm to a person and conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.

PC 45 Adrian Forde, also of the CID, is charged with conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.

In his testimony, Davis, a member of the Drug Squad, said while at Central Police Station, he received a telephone call from PC Kenroy Caine and as a result of information, which he said he relayed to Sergeant Catherine Robinson, then Corporal, he, Robinson, Edwards and PC Shaun Chandler headed to Bottom Town.

When they arrived, Davis said he parked the police transport and stood outside the vehicle.

He said Edwards, Robinson and Chandler proceeded to the beach.

“About 15 minutes later, I received another phone call from Caine and about two minutes later, I heard what appeared to be gunshots…,” Davis said.

Davis said two minutes later, he saw Morgan and Collins bringing Edwards towards the vehicle. Davis said the injured man was placed in the police transport and driven to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

Under cross-examination from counsel Ronald Marks, Davis said Chandler left for the beach with an M4 assault rifle, while Edwards and Robinson were both equipped with glock pistols.

Davis said when he was driving Edwards to the hospital, he saw a vehicle from the CID department parked just opposite the Magikleen building on Bay Street.

Corporal Vaughn Barker of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), in his testimony, said while on duty at Prospect at about 9 p.m., he received a telephone call from an anonymous person. As a result of that call, Barker said he telephoned the Narcotics Department and relayed the information to PC Caine.

He testified that he also spoke to Corporal Tittle of the Layou RRU and Morgan of the CID. Barker said he proceeded to Rose Place and on his arrival, he met Morgan, whom he said questioned him.

“He asked me if I have any knowledge that members of Narcotics was at Rose Place I told him no. He told me a member of Narcotics was shot,” Barker said.

Under cross-examination by Marks, Barker said three units, including the RRU at Prospect, responded to the anonymous call.

PC Kenroy Caine, a member of the Drug Squad, in his testimony said he received the telephone call from Barker at about 9:20 p.m. about a drug operation in Bottom Town. He said he relayed what Barker told him to PC Davis.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., Caine said he tried contacting Barker, but was unsuccessful. He then called the Special Services Unit (SSU).

Under cross-examination by Marks, Caine said when he called Davis, he did not know where they were.

He said he called the SSU because he thought the Drug Squad needed back-up.

“Did you know the RRU from Layou was responding to the same report? Marks asked.

Caine replied, “No!”

“Did you know CID officers were responding?”

“No please!” Caine replied.

In further cross-examination by counsel Kay Bacchus-Browne and Duane Daniel, Caine said he did not know who arrived on the scene first, or who was coordinating the operation.

PC Chandler, in his testimony, told the court that when he went onto the beach, he was equipped with a glock pistol with 22 rounds of ammunition and a M4 assault rifle with 57 rounds of ammunition.

“Being the point man, I led the way onto the beach with the M4 in ready position and both Corporals following,” Chandler said.

He noted that the beach was dark, with a little light shining from houses and street lights close to the road.

“We had our flashlights on and as we moved further, I saw movements. I saw three male figures and three plastic containers, which I later found out to be gasoline jugs…”

Chandler said he spoke to the other two members of his unit and they all took off their flashlights and moved closer.

“As I got closer using stealth tactics, I shine my spotlight on them and shouted ‘stay where you are’.

“As I gave my command, the bigger of the three individuals ran from where he was. I made my weapon ready and pointed it on same and shouted, ‘stay where you are’.

Chandler said the individual stopped and he walked him back to where Edwards and Robinson were.

He said he searched them, but nothing illegal was found.

Chandler said the men were made to sit on a small boat facing both corporals.

He said he saw a pirogue close by with a knapsack on it. He searched the bag, but only found keys, Trinidad and Tobago currency, clothes, sneakers and cellular phones.

Following the men’s apprehension, Chandler said he was instructed by Robinson to search the area. He said he gave Edwards the M4 rifle, along with the bunch of keys.

“I then took my short arm (glock pistol) and flashlight and carried out instructions that were given to me. I was about 80 feet away from my corporals when I heard two loud explosions…”

He said he ran back to where they were and observed Robinson crying and the tallest of the three suspects they apprehended, kneeling under the boat with his eyes shut.

With the use of his flashlight, Chandler said he saw other officers from different units around. He said he saw the same M4 rifle, which he had given to Edwards earlier, stuck in the sand with the butt in the air.

Chandler also testified that he saw the keys and a flashlight in the sand with what appeared to be blood on them.

Under cross-examination by Marks, Chandler said it took him about 10 minutes to get back to where he had left Edwards and Robinson guarding the three men.

Marks also put it to Chandler that when he saw the gun it was lying flat on the sand.

Chandler said no.

Counsel Daniel put it to Chandler that he only saw a silhouette on the beach and that he was afraid when he heard the gunshots coming from the corporals’ direction.

PC Gregory Cruickshank, in his testimony, said he went to Rose Place with a party of men, including Collins and Forde, and headed by Morgan.

He said on arriving there, he parked the vehicle just opposite the old Magikleen building, after which Morgan and the others alighted from the transport, while he sat in the driver’s seat.

Moments later, Cruickshank said he heard gunshots, so he came out and stood in the public road.

“I look in the direction of the hard court and saw Narcotics transport. I saw Collins and when I looked in the back of the transport I saw a man in what appeared to be blood.”

The matter will continue today, Friday and on June 25 at the Serious Offences Court, with approximately six more witnesses to be called.

Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams and Inspector Adolphus Delpesche lead the Crown’s case.(KW)