(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – Beetham resident Akiel Thomas was shot 10 times by police, an autopsy by pathologist Eastlyn McDonald-Burris at the Forensic Science Centre in St James found yesterday.
The autopsy was performed on the 19-year-old’s body almost 24 hours after he was shot dead by police during an incident near his Hell Yard, Beetham Gardens home on Wednesday morning.
Police reports say around 6.30 am a group of officers were conducting an exercise in the community when Thomas allegedly drew a gun and fired at them. Police claim Thomas, whom they accused of being a gang member, was shot in an exchange of gunfire. An illegal firearm was allegedly recovered on the scene.
However, Thomas’ relatives have disputed police’s claims saying he was unarmed and was executed by police officers whilst seated on a chair in a popular liming spot in the community.
Irate friends and relatives attempted to block the Eastern Main Road, Priority Bus Route and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in response to the incident on Wednesday but were stopped by police who were dispatched in anticipation of their response. The T&T Guardian understands a strong police presence was maintained in the community yesterday, although there were no reports of any protests.
Like with all incidents of homicides involving police officers, a first division officer from another division has been appointed to investigate. Thomas’ relatives are expected to file a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
Thomas’ death is the 19th police-related homicide to take place this year.