Laventille Imam Abdul Haaq says he expects intimidatory tactics and boasting from the police in the wake of last Saturday’s shooting death of 27-year-old Mikeal “Short Buck” Lancaster by officers.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian following Lancaster’s Janaazah (Islamic funeral last rite prayer) at the Masjid Ul Furqan (behind WASA’s twin tanks), Picton Road, Laventille, yesterday, Haaq said for years they have been facing “bragging” officers.
“For years it keep happening and it is the same batch of police officers that shot and killed someone recently and they did the same thing. They boasting and bragging about who they kill, telling us ‘aye we kill allyuh brethren,’ like if it is some big accomplishment for them,” Haaq claimed.
“These officers have taken a life, it is not like they shoot someone in their foot. They took someone’s life who had now arrant, no case pending, no matter, nothing. He (referring to Lancaster) was not known as any pest. They just come and kill the man.”
The young Muslim leader said the residents do not feel safe from “the rogue officers.”
“How can we feel safe when they come here and boast after like if it’s a game? How the community will feel safe from the same people (police officers) who are supposed to be protecting us?” Haaq added.
Haaq said he will be supporting Lancaster’s family in their search for justice, “as I know they are very serious about going the full distance because it is unjust and they kill a man in front of his mother and she seeing where he surrendered himself. “
Haaq said it was time for the police to deal with people as humans and not animals because it may just lead to retaliation.
“If they want to talk to me they will come and arrest me and detain me for three or four days just to talk to me, but that is not the right way. When you dealing with people in a particular way or any animal, there is something called natural defense, meaning that if you back somebody in a corner or an animal in a corner, what will it do? It would not lie down and play dead, eventually it will bite back and this is what they don’t want,” Haaq said.
Addressing the scores of youths who turned up for Lancaster’s last rites, Haaq pleaded with them to unite in Islam and to refrain from things that would stereotype them.
“John public believe that there is a level of gangsterism and all these other things that we don’t accept here as the functioning members of the Masjid and as members of the Muslim community. But if we display otherwise by partaking in the activities, the parties and so on then we will always be stereotyped. We have to establish what is right and forbid what is wrong. This is what Muslims do,” Haaq said.
Lancaster was shot three times in the head and four times in the chest at close range, according to an autopsy conducted at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, on Monday.
Initially, it was reported that on Saturday morning Lancaster was shot and killed during an alleged shootout with police while at his Dan Kelly, Picton Road, Laventille home. However, his 52-year-old mother said she was at home when about seven police stormed into her house. She said her son was unarmed and did not resist the officers before he was shot.
Residents staged a fiery protest at the John John traffic lights following the shooting and Laventille MP Fitzgerald Hinds had to intervene to calm the situation.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has started investigations into Lancaster’s shooting and that of two other men in Ste Madeleine and La Romaine and has asked any witnesses to the respective incidents to come forward.
Head of Corporate Communications at the T&T Police Service, Ellen Lewis, says it is troubling for anyone to assert or claim police officers derive any form of enjoyment “when death may result from any unfortunate interaction with the police.”
She made the comment in response to a claim Imam Abdul Haaq that a group of police officers boast and brag whenever they kill members of the Laventille community.
She said the police operate within what they refer to as a “force continuum,” which is dependent on the degree of the threat to which an officer/s may be confronted.
“The officer is authorised to act in a particular manner in the preservation of his own life or that of another attended by the requisite fear. In the event of a “police-involved homicide” an investigation is commenced to determine whether the use of deadly force was warranted/justifiable/lawful,” Lewis said.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Rhondor Dowlat)