PORT OF SPAIN –– An 80-year-old Erin pensioner is clinging to life while awaiting surgery at the San Fernando General Hospital after she was accidentally shot in the head by a rookie police officer on Monday night.
With the bullet still lodged in her head Tuesday, Sona Lalloo, of Rancho Quemado, was being prepped for surgery Tuesday evening.
The police constable who fired is attached to the South Western Division Task Force (SWDTF) and is expected to be questioned as ASP Jackman has begun inquiries. A senior officer said he also would undergo counselling.
According to a report, the incident occurred around 7:45 p.m. on Monday when members of the SWDTF were responding to a report that a group of gunmen were seen walking along Johnson Trace, Rancho Quemado.
On arrival, the officers saw two men standing on the roadside with one holding a silver object resembling a gun in his right hand. When they saw the officers approaching, the men ran off and tried to escape through a bushy track.
The officer and a colleague chased them and one of them climbed over a chain-link wire fence. The officer, who had his gun drawn, was climbing the fence when he heard two gunshots from the direction of the suspect. However, as he was climbing the fence it gave way and he fell to the ground. As his gun hit the ground, however, it accidentally discharged and by the time he got up the suspect had escaped.
Within a few minutes the officer, who also injured his hands in the fall, was called by Lalloo’s son, who was standing outside their home located on a hill a short distance away. It was then he was told Lalloo had come out her bathroom bleeding from a wound to her head.
An ambulance was called in and she was taken to the Siparia District Health Facility and was later transferred to the SFGH.
Contacted Tuesday, Police Social Welfare Association president Inspector Anand Ramesar wished Lalloo a speedy recovery from her injury, saying it was unfortunate she was shot.
However, he said the officer was justified in having his firearm in his hands as the suspect could have opened fire on him at any time.
He said word reaching the association was that the officer was shaken up over the incident and they hoped social workers at the T&T Police Service (TTPS) had already reached out to him. He said situations like that were always judged in hindsight and people did not really appreciate the risk officers faced in chasing armed suspects.
“From the information the association has received, we are inclined to believe that the circumstance of the officer having operational possession of his firearm was justifiable. The circumstances of the firearm being discharged was most unfortunate and we are advised that the officer himself is quite shaken up by the accident.
“A lot of people hold the view that a policeman should be shot at before he can draw his firearm to defend himself. The association is saying that this is an incorrect view and if a threat warrants an officer using his firearm to protect himself, he should do so,” Ramesar said
Head of corporate communications at the TTPS, Ellen Lewis, said Tuesday the matter would be investigated and the officer would remain on active duty until there was a conclusion.