KILLED: Joel Apparicio

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Probes into 3 police killings nearing completion

By Alexander Bruzual

Police are nearing completion on their investigations into the deaths of 21-year-old Naim Dean, 31-year-old Joel Apparicio and 35-year-old Nathaniel Long.
This was revealed last Wednesday by public information officer for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), Inspector Wayne Mystar, during the weekly press briefing at the police administration building on Edward Street, Port of Spain.
“The police files are almost completed in relation to these three police shootings, and once completed they will be submitted to the Director or Public Prosecutions (DPP) for instructions on how to proceed,” said Mystar.
The three men were killed during separate incidents with officers of the TTPS between April 12 and May 22.
Dean was killed on April 11.
According to police reports, at about 8 p.m., at La Horquette Road, Glencoe, officers of the Rapid Response Unit stopped a van in which Dean was a passenger and began searching him.
The officer attempted to search his groin area when Dean slapped away his hand and ran. The officer chased him and a scuffle ensued. During the scuffle Dean reportedly stabbed the officer, who shot him once in the chest.
However, Dean’s relatives claim this report was made up and that Dean was shot in cold blood while running away from the officer.
They accepted that he was searched and ran away after slapping away the officer’s hand. However, they claimed that the officer fired a single gunshot as Dean ran.
An autopsy report stated that Dean was shot in the back and it pierced his lungs.
On May 14, Long was killed by a police officer of the Western Division, after he allegedly raised a firearm to the policeman.
According to police reports, at about 11.30 p.m., a joint police/army patrol was conducted in Bagatelle when the officers observed Long sitting next to the roadway.
The officers confronted Long, but as they approached him, the police report states that Long pulled out something that resembled a firearm and pointed it at the patrol unit.
One of the policemen, fearful for his life, drew his licensed firearm and shot at Long, hitting him multiple times about the body.
Long was then placed in the police vehicle and rushed to St James Health Facility, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
However, residents of the area have firmly disputed this report, claiming the police opened fire on the father of three without reason or cause.
They said Long was one of the few “genuinely good men” in the area and he was not involved in any criminal activity.
On May 22, Apparicio was killed in a shooting incident involving a special reserve policeman (SRP) in San Juan.
According to his relatives, Apparicio 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 alerted to the “fleeing man” by persons on the roadway who were allegedly screaming “thief” as Apparicio ran up the hill.
According to an autopsy report conducted at the Forensic Science Centre by pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes, Apparicio was killed by a single bullet. The bullet, the report revealed, entered the left side of his chest, perforating several vital organs, before exiting on the right side of his chest.
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