George Ashby

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Remembering George Ashby

....five years after his death at the hands of police

By SUSAN MOHAMMED susan.mohammed@trinidadexpress.com

THE police version of events is that five years ago today , 52-year-old Tabaquite man George Ashby and a man took a loaded shotgun and robbed a supermarket in Rio Claro.

Police have said that Ashby used his Nissan B-12 Sentra as the getaway car, and his accomplice sat in the front seat holding the shotgun through the front passenger window.

They have said that when a team of police officers followed the robbers in hot pursuit and confronted Ashby, he pointed the shotgun at them and threatened their lives.

Police officers fired at Ashby and shot him three times in the chest, killing him. Police claimed that his accomplice exited the car and escaped into the bushes. However, the police shooting has been dispute by all who knew Ashby, and there is evidence that the alleged "shotgun" was nothing more than the handle of a broken weed whacker that Ashby was taking home from the school at which he worked, to repair.

Villagers protested over what they called was the cold-blooded murder of Ashby. They gave statements to investigating officers and the Police Complaints Authority that Ashby spent the day cooking a meal of ground provisions and stewed pork with other staff at the Tabaquite Composite Secondary School.

That evening in 2009, he left the school in his car which he drove for years and headed to his San Pedro home. He had placed a grass-cutting tool commonly known as a "weed whacker", with part of it was projecting out of the front passenger window of the car, witnesses said.

They said that when police officers saw his bleeding body, they threw him in the tray of a van to take him to for medical attention.

He died before he received treatment.

Ashby's friend, Elias Lewis, remains loyal to finding justice for his death.

Lewis said yesterday he believes Ashby's killing was "a case of mistaken identity coupled with extensive force".

Last April, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams told PCA head Gillian Lucky that a group of retired police officers was to be formed into a unit to investigate police killings of citizens. Lucky had said that Ashby's case was one at the top of list of 20 other persons who were killed by police over the last six years.

The PCA is still awaiting answers from the police.
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