The mother of a woman who was shot dead by police in Santa Cruz believes her daughter’s death may be linked to a car which she bought four days before the incident.
Kerri Serries, 29, and the other victim, Rochyon King Ashterman, 19, were killed by officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) while at La Canoa Road in Santa Cruz at about 9.25 pm. They were both in Serries’ white Honda City. A patron of a bar was also injured and remains warded at hospital.
Police said on Saturday the SORT team attempted to stop a vehicle with two occupants on Friday and were shot at by occupants of the car.
“One of the officers was shot in the leg.
“In keeping with the use of force policy, police returned fire wounding the two occupants,” the report stated.
A photograph of an unmarked police SUV with what appeared to be bullet markings on the front bonnet was released by the TTPS as evidence of a fire-fight.
However, Serries’ mother, who was at the Forensic Science Centre (FSC) on Monday claimed some people witnessed the incident.
She said her daughter was a businesswoman selling baby items and toys and used Facebook to market her business and take orders for delivery.
The mother, who is said to be in a state of shock said that her daughter was a mother of three children and had asked her for money to purchase a vehicle and she had given her $40,000 towards it.
She said she saw the vehicle for sale on Facebook on a page selling items and decided to meet with the seller to purchase it.
“That car, I think the root of the problem is that car. When my daughter got the car on Tuesday she parked it home in Diego Martin and that same day at 5.30 pm she went to Chaguaramas with one of her friends for a test drive because she can’t drive too well. Thursday she gone back Chaguaramas with a neighbour. Friday she went on errands and the car remain in Diego Martin in a family house. Then about 7 pm Friday was the first time that car leave the west. But I think the police was marking that vehicle and didn’t know the car was sold,” she surmised.
The mother said she had no clue why her daughter was in Santa Cruz that night.
Ashterman’s girlfriend and mother, who were also at the FSC said he loved to help people. Ashterman was the son of Guardian Media radio DJ Rodney “Fireball” King.
“My son not in no gun thing. He is a graphic artist always on business. He may be liming at the wrong place at the wrong time. Last time I spoke to my son was Thursday he made a graphic for my business place. Why all yuh smearing his name? Why because he living Belmont? Come on. They were liming by his friends. I don’t know how she met him up or what. He was driving cause she now get the car and she don’t drive at night. Even after the shooting, all his friends was like they don’t know her.
They don’t know this person. It was a chance encounter,” she added.
Serries’ mother said sometime on Sunday evening she got a strange call warning her to stay away from FSC as Ashterman’s relatives wanted her dead but after meeting with them at the FSC she realised that it may have been an attempt to keep the two families apart and cause malice.
“Maybe they did not want us to talk and unite to fight against this.”
Ashterman’s relatives even expressed shock.
“We don’t know why whoever called her but we are good with her…just like her, we want justice for our child and we want to clear their names.”
Another relative said that they don’t have a problem with Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and his special elite team doing their job, “But you see this case. They are very wrong in this case.”
Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith on Saturday came out in defence of his officers saying the officers acted in self-defence.
In a release issued in response to the Santa Cruz incident on Friday, Griffith released a photo of police vehicles pock-marked with bullet holes.
“These are the “imaginary bullets” that hit the police vehicle that was shot at in the police-involved shooting in Santa Cruz...it is amazing that residents always have bionic eyes, when the police are defending their lives against imminent threats, but of the 340 plus persons killed this year, for some in that same area, with the same bionic eyes, they conveniently wear blinkers and see nothing nor do they seem to be concerned, because you never hear their voices when gang members kill innocent persons.”
He said he believes that these persons need to find a new story to tell.
“A police officer got shot and the pathetic excuses by these convenient sympathisers, in areas where police are fired upon and respond by returning fire to defend themselves, are boring now,” Griffith said.
“What would they claim? Did the officer shoot himself to find an excuse to fire back? No! The officer was shot at. They tried to kill him.
“For those who refer to the victims as “innocent” people, this says a lot about these sympathisers’ character,” he added.
The Commissioner said that if anyone aimed a weapon or shot at his officers, they had his full support and directive to do what is required to neutralise the threat and “they did.”
“Does the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service need to be thankful that criminal elements fired first, and actually injured an officer and damage their vehicle to justify my officers returning fire? The answer is no, “ Griffith said.
Police said they recovered a loaded gun from the car Ashterman was driving.