BEETHAM CONFRONTATION: Beetham Gardens residents square off with police yesterday during protests along the Priority Bus Route following the shooting of a 26-year-old resident near the Beetham landfill yesterday morning. Residents accused the police of brutality, while the police said the man attacked them with stones. –Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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PUT DOWN YOUR GUNS

...and let’s cuff it out, protesters tell police

By Gyasi Gonzales gyasi.gonzales@trinidadexpress.com

“PUT down your gun and leh we cuff it out,” said a Beetham Gardens resident to a police officer wielding a sub-machine-gun yesterday during a protest over the police’s shooting of a man from the area, who was allegedly throwing stones at the police.
The 26-year-old man lives in Hell Yard, in the Beetham area and is currently under police guard at Port of Spain General Hospital.
The drama started around 9 a.m. when police officers were on mobile patrol near the entrance to the Beetham landfill.
Police said they heard their vehicle being hit and saw a man throwing stones.
The officers said they told him to stop, but he refused and continued throwing even larger stones at the police vehicle.
One of the officers then pointed a gun at the man and opened fire, hitting him in the legs.
The man was then picked up, placed in the police vehicle and taken to hospital.
A motorist who spoke to the Express, said as he was heading into Port of Spain, along the Beetham Highway, he witnessed the man throwing large stones at the police.
“I was not surprised when I heard that they shot him,” said the motorist.
But when Beetham Gardens residents found out what happened they became enraged.
Spurred on by a few “activists” in the area, they first began blocking the east-bound lane of the Beetham Highway with bits of debris and wood.
Heavily armed police were then seen speeding towards the scene, with support from their Regiment colleagues.
Next came the media, whose presence seemed to embolden the protesters.
Mostly male residents, accompanied by a few women, were seen pointing their hands at the faces of the police and telling them: “Allyuh can’t do we nothing!”
The police occupied the far left lane of the eastbound highway as they guided motorists away from the debris, which included broken glass.
The officers also prevented some of the protesters from running back onto the highway and placing more debris.
Around noon, the protesters suddenly dispersed.
However, the protest moved from the highway to the Priority Bus Route. But within minutes, officers were there and quelled the disturbance just as it began.
Residents continued cursing police officers as one man, who wore a red bandana on his head, was seen telling a policeman dressed in operation wear and armed with a Galil rifle: “Put down the gun nah, leh we cuff it out. Yuh cyar do that, yuh cyar do that.”
The officer smiled at him, but kept his ground and eventually the protest ended.
The police said they maintained a heavy presence at Beetham Gardens throughout most of yesterday into last night and said they would be there this morning as well.
Last August, Beetham residents protested following the shooting death of a resident, 23-year-old Christopher Greaves.
The residents alleged that for no reason the police pursued Greaves and shot him, after which they took him to Port of Spain General Hospital only when they (the residents) pleaded with the police to do so.
The police claimed that Greaves was seen with a handgun that he was about to draw from his waist when he spotted a party of patrolling officers.
The police said they ordered him to drop the weapon and he refused and he attempted to fire at the police, which prompted them to shoot him.
The matter is under investigation by the Police Complaints Authority.
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