The four men charged with killing Police Sgt Hayden Manwaring are asking for protection, claiming death threats and police brutality.
Charged with murdering Manwaring two Tuesdays ago are Kerron Nicholas-Garcia, 19, of Aldana Street, Princes Town; Anthony Clement, 37, of East Dry River, Port of Spain; Kelvin Wallace, 23, of Flamingo Crescent, Pleasantville; and Kofi Cropper, 40, of Manahambre Road, Ste Madeleine.
As they were led into the San Fernando Magistrates' Court yesterday afternoon, one accused cursed media photographers and threw a bag containing his clothing, as he raged about not wanting to be photographed.
And when taken before Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington, both police and accused killers claimed death threats, with the accused men asked for special protection in prison.
Manwaring was shot in the abdomen on February 19 at Butler Street, San Fernando, after responding to a report of a robbery at a fast food outlet. His colleague, Police Constable Nicholas Philip was also shot in the arm. Manwaring died at the Intensive Care Unit of the San Fernando General Hospital that night, after undergoing surgery.
Philip is on medical leave, awaiting surgery to remove the bullet still lodged in his arm. The four accused, who were charged by Inspector Seemungal Rampersad, were brought from the Homicide Bureau at around 3.15 p.m. They were led through a crowd of police officers and family members.
Some of their relatives wept.
Manwaring's family members and the accused were allowed into the courtroom for the hearing, as dozens of police officers stood by.
Defence attorney Gideon McMaster appeared for the men, telling the court he was holding for attorney Ravi Rajcoomar.
The four are charged with murdering Manwaring. Garcia is also charged with shooting Constable Phillip with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and with stealing Manwaring's Smith and Wesson service firearm, valued at $4,600, and ammunition valued at $30.
Garcia, Wallace and Cropper are jointly charged with three offences of armed robbery at Mom's Diner, Cipero Street, San Fernando, on the day Manwaring was killed.
All four are charged with the illegal possession of arms and ammunition.
Magistrate Wellington was preparing to remand the men in prison custody when attorney McMaster spoke on behalf of the accused.
He said when Garcia was arrested, he was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound and "beaten severely upon his arrest by police".
The attorney said Garcia was "the recipient of several death threat from persons he believed to be police officers" and "one came to his bedside and removed his chest tube".
Garcia claimed that arrangements were being made for him to be killed at prison.
McMaster said Wallace was claiming death threats, and a beating by police officers. McMaster said Wallace had injuries to his chest, hand, wrist and leg.
Clement alleged that as a result of a police beating, he ended up in hospital, and a catheter had to be inserted. Clement, through his attorney, claimed he had blood in his urine.
Cropper claimed injuries to his neck and head, and death threats.
During the defence attorney's statement, Police Prosecutor Sergeant Cleyon Seedan interrupted the court, stating that Wallace had shown him the "gun finger" sign.
Wallace responded, "I didn't look at you officer. That is allegations you pulling."
McMaster asked that the State disclose the evidence against the men.
Sgt Seedan said a State attorney would be appointed in the case.
McMaster asked that the court "make an order so that arrangements can be made so that the lives of the accused are not at risk given the sensitivity of the matter".
Magistrate Wellington said he would note the concerns.
Seedan said the accused men were medically examined before their court appearance.
Wellington adjourned the case to April 5.