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3 cops suspended
Three police officers from the La Brea Police Station have been suspended pending an investigation into their alleged failure to investigate a domestic violence report filed by murdered teacher Abigail Jones-Chapman.
The T&T Police Service sent out a release yesterday confirming the suspension with immediate effect of Sgt Rosalie Joseph-Taitt, Cpl Vierendra Ramlal and WPC Nailah Homer while an investigation is being conducted by the Professional Standards Bureau.
The release said acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams made the decision after reviewing a complaint from Jones-Chapman’s family and record from the station.
“Commissioner of Police (Ag.), Stephen Williams, on Thursday 15th March, 2018, requested from the Assistant Commissioner of Police—South, copies of all reports, statements and all relevant documents relating to the investigation of a report made by Abigail Jones-Chapman, at the La Brea Police Station, on March 8th, 2018,” the release said.
“These reports, statements and documents were perused and the Commissioner of Police has suspended from duty, with immediate effect, No 13381 W/Sgt Rosalie Joseph-Taitt; No 16835 Cpl Vierendra Ramlal and No 19496 WPC Nailah Homer, pending the completion of an investigation into an allegation of neglect of duty, to be conducted by the Professional Standards Bureau.”
Jones-Chapman, 41, was one of four people who were killed in Sobo Village, La Brea, on Tuesday. Her daughter Olivia, 16, her friend Michaela Mason,14, and landlord Michael Scott, 70, were also discovered dead in an apartment building at Kanhai Settlement. It is believed that Scott, who lived upstairs, heard a commotion and went to the other three victims’ assistance but was also killed.
Scott and Jones-Chapman were beaten to death, Olivia was beaten and stabbed and Michaela’s throat was slit.
Five days before these horrific murders, Jones-Chapman had reported to the police that she was assaulted and threatened by the suspect, whom she had once shared a close relationship. Her mother Christine Jones said the suspect, who lives at Guapo, attacked her daughter with a knife. Jones said the suspect also told her daughter the fate of Margaret Ragoobar-Gueverra, who was killed by a relative who also tried to kill himself in Sangre Grande last month, should have been hers. Jones said Olivia had berated the suspect after the incident last Thursday. She said the police told her daughter they were going to pick up the suspect, but they never did.
Meanwhile, in its own release on the matter yesterday, the Police Complaints Authority said it had noted the TTPS’ decision to suspend the officers for alleged neglect of duty in dealing with Jones-Chapman’s report.
Noting it will continue to monitor the case, the it said: “The PCA hopes that the expeditiousness displayed by the Acting Police Commissioner will be emulated by officers who are expected to act in relation to reports, including those concerning domestic violence.”
Several calls to Jones’ cellphone yesterday for a comment on the latest police action went unanswered.
The suspect also remains on the run.
Seales: Time for national discussio
Police Social and Welfare Association president Michael Seales says they stand ready to support the officers who have been suspended. However, he admitted last night that they had little information on the circumstances behind the decision.
“What the association has learned so far is that those officers would have done their duty and they would have sought legal advice and would have also submitted a file to their seniors,” Seales said in a telephone interview.
“What the association finds passing strange is that the officers themselves have been suspended. What the association wants to now do is to particularly partner and call on the Law Association for some suggested ways to respond to these issues of domestic violence. The association is satisfied that what has been put in place for a police officer to respond to, in terms of procedures and protocols, is not adequate enough for when mere threats are made, for what can happen after that in relation to an investigation and if at all you can subsequently charge the person that has perpetrated the offence.”
He said the association believes domestic abuse should be discussed at the national level, adding they are willing to work with the Law Association to show the public “from the position of the policemen how their hands are tied behind their backs in relation to the adequate response to the issue and not only an adequate response to the issue, but how the law impacts on that response.”
He said the association wants a meeting with Williams to discuss what led to his decision to suspend the officers.
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