Trinidad: Relatives Want Answers As Man Charged With Attempted Murder Of Prison Officer Dies Suddenly

(TT GUARDIAN) – The family of Emmanuel Joseph, who has been charged with the attempted murder of Deputy Prisons Commissioner Sherwyn Bruce, is demanding to know how the 22-year-old died from cardiac arrest.

Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has launched an investigation to determine how he died.

Joseph was charged with the attempted murder of Bruce, the attempted murder of prison officer Steve Phipps and the wounding of a 12-year-old girl on October 11.

The family said they learnt of Joseph’s death through the news updates posted on social media, and expressed outrage with the authorities for being kept in the dark over an extended period.

According to police reports, Joseph, who was remanded to the Eastern Correctional Rehabilitation Centre on Thursday, reported feeling unwell at 9 pm, on Friday.

After a report was made, officers took him to the Arima Health Facility. Joseph was examined by Doctor Bootoor and at 10:30 pm he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest.

However, his sister Crystal Charles told Guardian Media at their home in Santa Cruz yesterday, that she is not satisfied with what the authorities are saying is the cause of death.

“I want the truth, nobody doesn’t like to talk the truth at all at all at all. And you see the system … I always used to tell that same one and I would tell anybody, you see the system, don’t ever get in the system,” a distressed Charles said.

She said the lack of information surrounding Joseph’s death has planted seeds of doubt in their minds.

“As we say, nobody is telling us, the news puts up everything before we know anything. We want a lawyer to be present because they say an autopsy must take place, so we want the lawyer present,” the sister declared.

Charles explained that her brother was not known to suffer from any serious medical condition, adding to the concerns over his passing.

“He never had any heart conditions, the boy used to be up and down all over–he used to be smoking, drinking, liming, and partying nearly every day, not to say he suffered from anything, the only thing he suffered with was when he was a baby, his intestines was closing in, that was the only thing,” Charles recalled.

Police sources told Guardian Media that Joseph was an informant and spoke out on the hidden guns, ammo, explosives, and police paraphernalia that were found in two separate major police operations at Cangrejal Road in Santa Cruz.

The first haul was on the evening of October 11 while Joseph was at a health facility for gunshot injuries stemming from the incident under police guard.

The second haul was on October 17 in the same area while Joseph was in police custody.  Joseph was subsequently charged last Wednesday night.

He appeared in court on Thursday. By Friday night, he was dead.

On October 11, the Deputy Prisons Commissioner was about to enter an unmarked prison vehicle—a white Toyota Fortuner, driven by Prison Officer Phipps, which was parked in front of his house—when two masked men armed with firearms, alighted from a white Toyota Axio motor vehicle and opened fire on them.

Phipps and Bruce’s 12-year-old daughter, who was in the vehicle and was injured, were subsequently taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex for medical attention. Phipps was shot in the torso and underwent emergency surgery while Bruce’s daughter sustained a minor wound to the right leg just above the knee.

Joseph was arrested by officers of the Northeastern Division (NED) on that same day.

He was charged by Sgt Brian Nixon of the NED on Wednesday following advice received from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Police launch probe

Acting Prisons Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar told Guardian Media yesterday, that “from reports, there are no incidents or signs of violence so, police are involved, and investigations are ongoing, I can’t say anything much, everything is fresh and like I said, investigations ongoing”.

The Prison Service issued a statement yesterday saying an investigation has been launched into the inmate’s death. The release said that he was taken to the Arima  Health Facility after complaining about chest pains. He was attended to and subsequently pronounced dead by the attending physician.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service was informed and is currently investigating the matter. Mr Joseph’s next of kin was contacted by an assigned Welfare Officer, who informed (them) of his passing. The Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service extends condolences to the family and friends of Mr Emmanuel Joseph,” it added.

Joseph was charged with two counts of attempted murder, possession of firearm, possession of ammunition, possession of firearm to endanger life, and possession of ammunition to endanger life.

Last Thursday, he appeared before Port-of-Spain Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor and the matter was adjourned to October 24.