Twenty-five-year-old Beetham resident Christopher Greaves took three bullets from behind—one of which killed him—according to an autopsy report dated September 3, 2013, obtained by the Express.
And according to a police report also obtained by the Express, the bullets came from the guns of a police constable and a police corporal who were on mobile patrol on Main Street, Beetham Estate, on Sunday, September 1. They were accompanied by a police inspector who did not fire any shot.
The corporal fired one round from his Galil.
The police constable, however, who was also driving the police vehicle, fired a total of 18 shots, one of which killed Greaves.
All three officers are from the Inter-Agency Task Force.
Greaves’s death set off tensions in the Beetham community just east of Port of Spain and resulted in a clash between residents and police officers that lasted three days.
During that time, police lobbed tear gas canisters and fired their weapons in the air to control enraged residents. Residents blocked the Priority Bus Route and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway with burning debris, stalling traffic for hours. They hurled missiles at police and vehicles travelling along the highway; two children who were in passing vehicles were injured and treated at hospital.
In his autopsy report, forensic pathologist Dr Hughvon des Vignes identified three bullet wounds in Greaves’s body. The fatal shot entered Greaves’s upper left back and exited the front of his upper left chest. This has been identified as the official cause of death.
“The bullet path is slightly from right to left (outward), from back to front and slightly from top to bottom (downward),” des Vignes stated in his report.
Another bullet hit Greaves on the back of his right forearm, just below the elbow. That bullet’s trajectory is also “back to front (forward) and slightly from top to bottom (downward)” and exited the front of the right forearm, according to the report.
The third bullet also struck the right upper forearm below the elbow. That bullet broke Greaves’s lower right humerus (bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow).
The autopsy on Greaves was performed at the Forensic Science Centre two days after he was killed. Greaves was shot shortly before 4.20 p.m. He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital in the tray of a police pick-up; he was pronounced dead at the hospital sometime after 6 p.m.
The police account of the circumstances of Greaves’s death is contained in a police report. The police report is comprised of statements from the three officers who were on the scene. All the statements are dated September 6, 2013. The report states the officers were travelling east along Main Street, between Second and Third streets, when the police constable who fired the fatal shot saw Greaves walking west with his head down.
Greaves reportedly raised his head and the constable stated that he (Greaves) had a “shocked and startled reaction”.
“I noticed a bulge on his left side,” he stated. “He quickly reached for the bulge with both hands lifting his T-shirt with his left hand and I saw the butt of a pistol with a magazine fitted which he grabbed with his right hand...”
The constable, while driving, raised his MP5 (a 9mm, German-made submachine gun). Police stated that Greaves ran east on Main Street and then south on Third Street.
The police vehicle pursued him. Now abreast of Greaves, police say Greaves turned his body with the weapon pointing in the direction of the police vehicle.
The constable, still driving, fired a burst. The police corporal also fired, but only one round from his Galil. The corporal stated that at this point, Greaves’s gun fell from his hands.
The police vehicle hit a brick wall; the constable issued a second burst of fire from his MP5.
The police inspector exited the police vehicle and picked up the gun that had fallen from Greaves’s hand.
Greaves, according to police, continued running despite being shot three times. Officers said they found Greaves lying on his back along a track that connects Third and Fourth streets.
By this time, police say, angry residents had started to congregate and the officers called for back-up.
The police report, however, does not establish what is referred to as a chain-of-custody for the gun that police say Greaves had in the waist of his trousers. There is no account of what happened to the gun after the inspector retrieved it off the ground at Third Street, Beetham Gardens; where it was lodged and in whose possession. It states only that the gun was passed to a police officer at IATF headquarters when the inspector returned to base. No time is recorded in the police report.
There is no statement from the officer who received and packaged the gun at IATF headquarters.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Sagramsingh is leading the investigation into the police killing.