Coast Guard, Ely Goodridge

Sascha Wilson

Relatives of a Coast Guard serviceman who was shot by the police in South Oropouche yesterday, are rejecting claims that he attacked them with a cutlass.

Ely Goodridge,34, who lives with his relatives a short distance away from where the incident occurred is warded at the San Fernando General Hospital.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

He was shot on a portion of land which has been the subject of a court battle between the Goodridge family and a company.

According to a police statement, preliminary reports revealed that officers of the Port-of-Spain Division, accompanied by a bailiff, proceeded to Berridge Trace around 5.45 am on Tuesday to effect an eviction pursuant to a High Court judgment.

According to the release, the officers were attacked by a man with a cutlass, and in accordance with the Use of Force policy, one of the officers discharged his firearm, striking the man in his lower abdomen. However, Vaughn Goodridge denied that his brother attacked the police. He claimed that the land, five acres, had been in his family since the 1950s and they had been planting agriculture crops and rearing animals on it.

However, he said in 2008 a company claimed to have bought the land and the matter went to court.

He complained that this was not the first time that their fence, structures and crops on the land were bulldozed. Goodridge said before he arrived at the scene yesterday morning, a man who is staying in a shed on the property was beaten by the police with a pigfoot.

He said the company’s security officer pushed his partner and he fell down a hill.

He described a tussle that occurred, following which his brother was shot. “When I hear the shot and I turn around I see the officer with the gun like it facing my direction too and when I watch back down the hill I see my brother not getting up. When I gone and pull his jersey I see he had two holes (to his back) and blood running out his mouth.”

Goodridge who showed several tenant receipts which he claimed were for the land, said, “We just want some justice, that’s all.”

Attempts to contact the company for comment were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said it was aware that one of its members was injured in a shooting incident.

“The matter has engaged the attention of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and investigations are continuing into the circumstances surrounding the shooting. The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard remains committed to working together with partner agencies as we strive to continue to provide safety and security to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.” the statement said.