Relatives, friends and villagers confronted the police yesterday during a fiery protest in Moruga calling for justice for Vernrick Hudlin, who was fatally shot by an off-duty policeman on Saturday.
Emotions flared as tyres burned across Moruga Road, St Mary’s Village, near Gomez Trace, where Hudlin, fondly known as Myman, was killed by a bullet to the chest.
“We want justice! We want justice,” shouted protesters who were wearing face masks and displaying placards.
As Sgt John and other officers from the Barrackpore Police Station arrived on the scene, the protesters did not back down. They called for the arrest of the shooter, who lives in the Gomez Trace community in the nearby HDC Ridge View development.
Hudlin, 54, a watchman at the Gomez Trace Wastewater Treatment Plant, also lived on the compound located within the Ridge View development.
Video footage of the incident shows Hudlin walking along the road around 4.50 pm when a blue car suddenly swerves in front of him. Hudlin walks up to the driver’s window and within seconds raises his cutlass. He was shot and immediately fell to the ground. The driver and another occupant then pick him up and place him in the vehicle before driving off. Hudlin, the father of a teenage boy, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Princes Town District Facility.
The police officer later claimed he had an altercation with Hudlin, who attacked him with a cutlass. However, residents and relatives claimed that before the incident, Hudlin would have spoken to the officer about dumping debris in front of the treatment plant.
PRO of Ridge View Community Group, Everald Dyer, said he saw Hudlin arguing with two policemen earlier in the day and he later told Hudlin to go home and forget about it.
“I am willing to testify that he did nothing. Mr Gary Griffith and Insp Alexander, justice must be served. We don’t want that policeman to be living in our community anymore. We want him locked up. If that does not happen, we will walk for justice,” Dyer said.
Another resident, Antonio Pitman, added, “The video is showing differently. We want answers. Why the man is not locked up right now? All of us are uncomfortable living with this man inside here (the community).”
Hudlin’s friend Mary Dyer said he was loved by the community.
She complained, “The police was dumping rubbish on the man’s worksite and the man complained to the police as a neighbourhood watch. He should of never killed we brother. It is wrong. Justice must be served today.”
She said residents were now living in fear.
“We want the police officer to be arrested and brought to justice for killing an innocent man who has done him nothing. A good man loved by the whole community.”
Resident Ian Ali said Hudlin was a good and generous person.
“I am hurt and disturbed. It was an execution.”
Sgt John explained to the protesters that while he understood they were aggrieved, they were in the breach of the COVID-19 regulations and other laws. He told them that an active investigation was ongoing and he would answer their questions once the debris was cleared off the roadway.
“Allyuh coming to apply the law for people who are willing to grieve for a man who was good. Allyuh come to tell we don’t stand up for we rights,” lamented Hudlin’s younger brother Justin Diaz, who complained that the police were yet to contact the family about the incident.
Diaz also said they did not even know where his brother’s body was being kept.
The debris was only cleared after another officer explained to them that one of the commuters stuck in the traffic caused by the roadblock was a woman taking her sick daughter to seek medical treatment.
The Police Complaint Authority has also launched an investigation into the incident. A PCA release stated, “The public is assured that due process shall be followed at all stages of the investigation. In this regard, the PCA will not express any view prior to any determination by a court of law as same may be tantamount to attempting to interfere with due process and the course of natural justice.”
The PCA requested that witnesses or persons with information on the incident contact 226-4722 email at [email protected] The authority said all information provided would be kept confidential.