Agricola fatal shooting…Rank further remanded; Protest locks down Magistrates’ Court
By Zena Henry
The arrival of Special Constable Terrence Wallace at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court incensed a small group of picketers which quickly grew yesterday morning. The rank, one of three charged with the murder of 17-year-old Agricola resident Shaquille Grant, arrived at the court seated in the front seat of a prison van, unshackled and without handcuffs.
Cries echoed from Agricola residents and other supporters who believed that Wallace was being given “special treatment”. The rank exited the police van and the people chanted, “We want justice.”
They claimed that Wallace was allowed to handcuff himself before heading towards the court’s holding area.
Subsequently, police ranks were seen on their cellular phones calling for back-up at the court. Heavily armed ranks later made their appearance, closing off the area in proximity of the court. Barricades blocked the section of Middle Street between Main and Carmichael Streets.
The courtroom was later filled with persons desirous of witnessing the proceedings. Some persons had to remain outside since seating was limited in the courtroom.
Wallace was further remanded when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry. The rank made his second appearance in court to answer allegations that on September 11, at Agricola, he, along with Jamal Lewis and Lance Corporal Warren Blue, murdered Shaquille Grant. The latter two officers are currently on the run and arrest warrants have been ordered by the court and wanted bulletins by the police.
Attorney Basil Williams appeared on behalf of the Agricola family while Sonya Parag represented the charged officer.
Prosecutor Kerry Boswick told the court that no progress had been made in the arrest of the two missing ranks. He asked the court to grant one week more for the charged officers to be located, since the prosecution had not received any advice on the whereabouts of the missing officers.
The police’s request was granted since the court wants to have the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) take place with the ranks jointly charged. The court, however, ordered that if the men are not found, the PI will have to be conducted separately.
Williams told the court that there are at least 30 witnesses ready to testify in the matter. He agreed that if the missing cops are not found, the matter will have to be conducted separately. Wallace was given October 29 to return to court.
That court proceeding saw the closure of the day’s court matters. Only one Magistrate returned to the court later in the afternoon to give prisoners new dates. That was after the Magistrates all left the building as picketers continued to vent their frustrations outside the court.
Following the hearing, the court had to be emptied so that Wallace could have exited. Kaieteur News was told that Wallace was taken to the upper flat of the court building and sneaked out the fire escape to the holding area at the back of the building.
It was close to 16:00 hours and police ranks were still plotting the escape route for Wallace since picketers refused to let the prison van leave the area. Persons piled on each other, lying in the path of the van. Others stood directly in front of it.
Numerous attempts were made, but the van was prevented from leaving.
Rumours spread that the police were thinking of dressing Wallace in police uniform so that he could not be recognized, but the people yelled, “No way, we know what you look like. We know you”. As a result of that, the picketers surrounded the front half of the police van since the back half of the truck was driven deep into the small space of the holding area.
Prior to this, the picketers had “camped out” in front of the court, bringing their water and food for the day’s long haul. Many of them had arrived at the court before 8:00 a.m.
At around 16:30 hours, the police finally had Wallace race to the police vehicle while scores of picketers flocked the vehicle to get his picture. They screamed expletives at the embattled policeman, subsequently racing to prohibit the van’s removal. The police were however not going to waste any more time and the driver of the van carefully manoeuvred his way through the picketers and eventually sped off, with Wallace being the only prisoner seated at the back of the van. Other prisoners were left behind to be later transported to the Camp Street facility.
Shaquille Grant’s mother and a handful of supporters subsequently took their protest to the residence of Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon. This was as a result of a press briefing which was held earlier in the day where the Government spokesman made a particular statement that further angered the picketers.
Luncheon said the current administration was not prepared to let Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee go. He told the opposition parties that in the words of Muhammad Ali, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”
The dead teen’s mother told this publication that Luncheon’s words were insensitive and rude. “That Luncheon is mocking the people of this country and he should give an apology to the grieving families of the youths who were recently killed.”