Five days after he was shot dead by police in what officers claim was a mutual exchange of gunfire, Billy Toussaint’s relatives are calling for an investigation into his death.
At her home in Cameron, Maraval yesterday, Toussaint’s mother, 76-year-old Claire Toussaint wept as she recalled her son’s death on Corpus Christi night.
Toussaint said Billy had come to her two months ago, telling her several police officers came to his house, located a short distance away and threatened him.
She said one officer in plain clothes, who also lives in the area, accused Billy of farming on his land.
“He said they came to his house while he was cooking and the officer had on short pants and a jersey, he was barefoot and he had a gun. He said the other police were in uniform and the officer he knows tell him don’t go back in the land again or he would come back and kill him and give him a gun,” Toussaint said.
She said Billy made his living as a farmer, planting chive and other seasonings, which he sold wholesale to supermarkets nearby. She said the land in question belongs to the Toussaint family and not to the police officer.
“I tell him to go to the police and make a report. He actually went on two days cause he found like the police wasn’t coming up to do anything or ask any questions.”
Toussaint said she was at home on the night Billy was killed and after the officers shot him, they broke down the door to her home and made everyone, including her one-year-old great-granddaughter, lie on the floor.
“Down to the little one-year baby they make lie down, I started to breathe hard and one of them told me to sit down on a chair. I had a blanket covering a couch and some of the children were lying on it, they make the children get up, take the blanket and went and cover his body with it,” Toussaint said.
She denied Billy was a gang member as police have claimed.
“I have 14 children, five daughters and nine sons and none of them ever get lock up or were ever involved in any kind of crime. He was a single father of two boys.”
She is calling on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to launch an investigation into Billy’s death.
Police claim officers went to the area on Corpus Christi night and while approaching the area “gunshots erupted” and police returned fire.
Toussaint’s niece Marissa La Borde disputes that account, saying she was present at the time of the shooting.
“We were liming under the tree, drinking and listening to music. It was only family here, no strangers. All of a sudden we saw a black X-Trail driving up and we heard gunshots, we didn’t know who it was and everybody started to run,” La Borde said.
She admitted that she froze when the gunshots rang out but she said her vantage point under the tree allowed her to see her uncle’s last moments.
“Billy run to my cousin’s house and was between the concrete column and my cousin’s car, the police officer who shoot him, was standing across the road by a parked car.
“He shouted at Billy to stop and Billy stopped, all he had in his hand was a beer bottle that he was drinking from. The officer then started shooting him…I saw him get about five shots,” La Borde said.
She said no one in the group shot at the police.
“They are saying someone shot at them, there are no bullet holes anywhere other than where the police shoot Billy. If they insist they get shot at, how the police car or none of the police ever get shot? Where the evidence that they were shooting at them? Their story does not make any sense,” she said.
Guardian Media tried reaching out to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith for comment yesterday but calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
Police Complaints Authority (PCA) head David West said the authority is aware of the case and has made contact with the family.
He said the PCA will begin an investigation into the incident as is the standard for all police-involved killings.