Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pastor protests over killing of her son

Less than a day after she buried her son, Joel Apparicio, who was killed on May 22, during an incident with a Special Reserve Police officer (SRP) in San Juan, Pastor Wendy-Ann Huggins staged a one-woman protest yesterday outside the Port of Spain Assizes, demanding justice.

His relatives claim, Apparicio, who was a father of one, was “innocently gunned down” as he was running along Real Street, San Juan, towards the nearby police station.

However, according to police reports, Apparicio was killed following an incident with the SRP who only moments before had been made aware of the “fleeing man” by people on the roadway who were allegedly screaming “thief” as Apparicio ran up the hill.

Yesterday, Huggins, who was dressed in a blue jersey with a print of her son’s face in the front, was seen pacing back and forth at the Hall of Justice with the placard held firmly above her head.

On one side of the placard the words “Justice for Joel Apparicio and sons murdered by police” were written, while on the other were the words, “Mr DPP my son was murdered by the police”.

Her actions even garnered the attentions of several attorneys as they exited the courthouse, some of whom even took the time to speak to the grieving woman.

Speaking to the media yesterday, Huggins Michelle Loubon said her entire purpose at the Hall of Justice was to ensure her son’s murder wasn’t “swept under the rug” and to hopefully allow Apparicio’s death to have a positive impact on police training.

She said: “You know what I learnt with Joel’s death? Whether a child is two years old, or 32, or 62, as a mother, that pain has no equal. Nothing else hurts as much as losing your child. And this walk here, cannot bring back Joel. I know that. But at the very least, hopefully it can bring awareness.

“Maybe the Police Commissioner or Minister of National Security will see me here on the news or wherever, and they can use this instance as a wake-up call to realise that they need to better train their officers. I want justice, yes. I want the man who killed my son to be brought before the courts and I want an example to be made of him. As a mother this is what I want.

“But beyond that, more than that, I want these police officers to receive proper training. They are taking an oath to protect and serve. So if you see a suspect running, and you think he is a bandit, there are other ways to bring him down than shooting to kill.

“If you think that use of a firearm was your only option, fine, but shoot him in the foot or something. Because at the end of the day, until something is proven, you only suspect a person of wrongdoing, you really don’t know.”

While Huggins continued to maintain yesterday that she and her family are yet to receive counselling from the police regarding the incident, police sources told the Express that they have tried to reach relatives of the family since the incident took place.

“I know for a fact that we did try to call her, but she was, understandably, not in a state of mind to talk to the officer at the time, and she instead opted to give the phone to another female relative who was also upset. So we have indeed made efforts, and will make further efforts later this week,” explained a police source at the Homicide Bureau of Investigations.

Enquiries are continuing.