“They kill my child for nothing.”
This was the lament of the mother of 38-year-fisherman Kern Richards, who was fatally shot by police officers at his Icacos Village, Cedros home yesterday.
As she stood in front the police caution tape that cordoned off her son’s home, Michelle Richards demanded justice. His killing also left residents and villagers angry and saddened, as they claimed Richards, fondly called Carva, was an innocent man.
The four police officers who were involved shooting, three men and a woman attached to the St Joseph Police Station, were still being questioned by investigators at the Point Fortin Police Station up to last evening.
According to a release from the TTPS, officers of the Northern Division went to Richards’ home to execute a warrant for arms and ammunition. The release said while the police were conducting the search there was a confrontation with the suspect, during which time he was shot. A pistol was recovered at the scene.
The officers took Richards to the Point Fortin Hospital where unsuccesful attempts were made attempts to resuscitate him.
However, relatives are claiming that the officers went to his house to rob Richards of his money and jewellery. Relatives said he was with his girlfriend, a Venezuelan national, when the police arrived.
Kimberly Soomai, the mother of Richards’ 11-year-old son who lives nearby, said around 4.50 am she was awakened by loud explosions.
“First I heard about six shots and after the six shots I heard about three shots after. I thought it was bandits so I started to call the neighbours for everybody to get up,” Soomai told Guardian Media.
When she ran across to Richards’ house, Soomai said she realised it was police after she saw a police vehicle and an unmarked black car outside.
“His girlfriend was there, she was crying. She was in a mess. I was asking where Kern? What happen, where Kern? Then I saw two of the officers coming out with him holding him ... the officers asking me where the nearest hospital is.”
She said Richards’ girlfriend told her that the police searched the house and then the female officer took her into a room.
“As she reach in the room, she say it wasn’t five minutes she hear the shots. They said Richards was smoking a cigarrete when they took him to the back of the house and shot him. She said they then dragged him a distance before picking him up and putting him in the vehicle. She said the police vehicle crashed and they got another vehicle to take him to the hospital,” Soomai claimed.
Questioning why police officers from St Joseph Police Station had come to Icacos to execute a search warrant, Soomai said, “The story I got from his girlfriend, because his girlfriend was here, is that he had some money with him, I don’t know the exact amount. What it is, is that they wanted to set him up, is either yuh give we the money or we give you the gun.”
Denying that he was involved in drugs, she said, “He don’t have a charge against the court. He don’t have a police record. He don’t have anything like that. You could ask anybody who know him,” Soomai said.
“You know the first thing they go say is he is a pest and police kill him. He is a free-spirited man. He always drinking rum. He always liming. He always having a good time. He don’t have a reason to watch he back. He have no enemies.”
His mother Michelle alleged that the officers asked her son for the $20,000.
“My child was not in nothing for police to kill him. Maybe he does smoke he weed and have he weed yeah, but to say to kill him for that, he not no criminal. They kill meh child for nothing,” lamented his mother.
Calling for justice, his mother said if the police don’t give her justice she will get it in her own way.
“I want justice and if I don’t get justice, I will climb the highest mountain and the deepest sea for them. Just let me get those officers’ name.”
Soomai called on Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to investigate his officers.
However, she said, “I leave everything in the hands of God because the justice system in this country sucks.”
In a video on social media, a policewoman was seen pushing Richards’ girlfriend away from his body, which was in the tray of a van. Another video shows her crying over his body on a stretcher at the hospital after failed attempts to resuscitate him. She kissed and caressed him as she wept. In the same video, his mother gently touched his face as she cried. Another video also showed blood on the ground at Richards’ home with a woman shouting at the police asking them who shot him.
“Ten shots, four police against one man with he gyal. Who kill him?”
The black car and two other vehicles were impounded by the police.
Investigations are continuing.