Father not satisfied with police’s account

he young cou­ple, who was killed by po­lice in a shoot­ing in San­ta Cruz, on Fri­day night, was us­ing a bor­rowed ve­hi­cle.

Speak­ing with Guardian Me­dia yes­ter­day, a source close to the fam­i­ly claimed that 19-year-old Rochy­on King Ashter­man and his girl­friend Kris­tan Ker­ri Ser­ries were lim­ing in San­ta Cruz when they bor­rowed a friend’s car to get some­thing to eat.

 

Like res­i­dents of the com­mu­ni­ty, the source claimed the cou­ple sur­ren­dered be­fore they were shot by of­fi­cers of the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team (SORT) along La Canoa Road.

The source claimed that it may have been a case of mis­tak­en iden­ti­ty as the own­er of the car is known to po­lice and the ve­hi­cle was sus­pect­ed to have been used for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty with­in the com­mu­ni­ty.

In a press re­lease is­sued hours af­ter the shoot­ing, the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) sought to give its ver­sion of the events.

It claimed that SORT of­fi­cers were con­duct­ing an ex­er­cise in the com­mu­ni­ty when they stopped the cou­ple’s ve­hi­cle.

“When the SORT of­fi­cers alight­ed from their ve­hi­cle to con­duct a rou­tine search, they were fired up­on by the oc­cu­pants of the ve­hi­cle, in­jur­ing one of the of­fi­cers in the leg. In keep­ing with the use of force pol­i­cy, po­lice re­turned fire wound­ing the two oc­cu­pants,” the re­lease stat­ed. It al­so claimed that loaded firearm was found in the car.

In a sub­se­quent re­lease, out­spo­ken Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith sought to ques­tion the claims of the cou­ple’s friends and limers at a bar in the com­mu­ni­ty, who wit­nessed the in­ci­dent and claimed that the cou­ple was un­armed. One of the limers was al­so wound­ed by a stray bul­let in the in­ci­dent and re­mained ward­ed in hos­pi­tal, up to yes­ter­day.

Grif­fith said: “It is amaz­ing that res­i­dents al­ways have bion­ic eyes when the po­lice are de­fend­ing their lives against im­mi­nent threats, but of the 340-plus per­sons killed this year, for some in that same area, with the same bion­ic eyes, they con­ve­nient­ly wear blink­ers and wee noth­ing nor do they seem to be con­cerned, be­cause you nev­er hear their voic­es when gang mem­bers kill in­no­cent per­sons.”

Grif­fith al­so pro­vid­ed a pho­to­graph of a po­lice ve­hi­cle which was al­leged­ly shot dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

In an in­ter­view at his Tacarigua home, yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Ashter­man’s fa­ther Rod­ney “Fire­ball” King said that his fam­i­ly was hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in be­liev­ing the po­lice’s sto­ry.

“With the opin­ions and false ac­cu­sa­tions be­ing cir­cu­lat­ed right now, I am try­ing to not take it on and not be phased by it. We know the truth,” King said.

King, a pop­u­lar ra­dio an­nounc­er and DJ with Guardian Me­dia, had just fin­ished work when he got the news of the shoot­ing. King de­scribed his teenage son as a “pho­to­copy” of him.

“He was very cool, very am­bi­tious and lov­ing,” King said, as he not­ed that his son was in the process of open­ing a graph­ic de­sign busi­ness.

While King ac­knowl­edged that the Po­lice Com­plaints Au­thor­i­ty (PCA) would be con­duct­ing an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the in­ci­dent, he said it pro­vid­ed no com­fort to him and his fam­i­ly.

“We would cry for jus­tice but noth­ing would hap­pen. It would be just an­oth­er sta­tis­tic or an­oth­er one on an­oth­er day,” King said.

King ad­mit­ted that he may have been judge­men­tal in the past when he came across sim­i­lar sto­ries of po­lice killings.

“I my­self had my opin­ions, so I can’t for­give my­self now that I am in that sit­u­a­tion,” King said.

 - Derek Achong

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