Vernrick Hudlin

A single gunshot wound to the abdomen caused the death of Moruga resident Vernrick Hudlin.

The autopsy was performed yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre, Port-of-Spain. However, Hudlin’s younger brother Justin Diaz said he was not pleased that his sister and stepfather were not allowed to stay in the room while the autopsy was being done.

Hudlin said they reached out to the Police Complaints Authority who inquired on their behalf and was told that they were not allowed to stay during the autopsy as part of the COVID-19 measures.

Hudlin, 54, fondly called Myman, lived and worked as a watchman/plant attendant at the Gomez Trace Wastewater Treatment plant for about six years.

His killing on Saturday by an off-duty policeman who also resides in the community has sparked anger and calls for justice. Villagers and relatives blocked the Moruga Road near Gomez Trace with burning tyres on Monday demanding justice.

Later that night, a peaceful candlelight procession was held in the community.

Praying and singing religious songs on Monday night, more than 100 residents, friends and relatives took part in the procession through the Ridge View, Gomez Trace community in St Mary’s Village.

The officer involved claimed that Hudlin attacked him with a cutlass following an altercation and he shot him with his service revolver. A video of the incident shows a car stopping suddenly in front of Hudlin. He quickly stepped to the side. Within the space of five to six seconds, Hudlin walked up to the front passenger’s window, raised his cutlass and then fell to the ground after being shot.

The driver and the passenger then exited the vehicle, picked up Hudlin, placed him in the backseat and drove off. He was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital. One of the organisers of the peace march, Hesper Ali-Darnoo, said, “We want justice for him. We want our voices heard. People need to know where to draw the line.”

She said the police came on the scene but they did not try to break up the procession.

“They were very understanding, they were polite, they were humble.”

She said most of the people involved in the protest and the procession were Hudlin’s friends.

“We are saddened by the manner he left us. It’s heartbreaking.”

Colin Thomas, president of the Ridge View Community Group, said they were uncomfortable with the officer residing in the community.

“So we are asking Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to do something please because we will not give up until we get justice,” he said.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised.

Investigations are continuing.