Lucky escape for Benjai

29 Jan

Soca artiste Rodney “Benjai” Le Blanc is lucky to be alive sources at the President’s House said yesterday after they confirmed the car in which he was a passenger  was shot at because it was allegedly following the President’s escort along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway,  Aranguez, San Juan, on Sunday.

According to the source, Le Blanc’s car was dangerously close to the escort detail which was taking acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith to the airport where he was to meet with President Anthony Carmona, who was returning from Bolivia. At one point, one of the police vehicles in the detail slowed down and a policemen leaned out and fired shots at the vehicle in which Le Blanc was.

One of the bullets reportedly blew out one of the vehicle’s tyres and the driver was forced to stop. The police vehicle did not stop and another police vehicle arrived on the scene later. The police who arrived in that vehicle took no action in the matter. The entire incident was caught on video and was subsequently posted on social media. Le Blanc suffered minor injuries in the incident.

Yesterday, both the source at President’s House and the police claimed Benjai was not only lucky to be alive but could face possible charges arising out of the incident. But in a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Le Blanc’s attorney Keith Scotland said the comment that his client was lucky to be alive was a “rather unfortunate” one, since his client has another side of the story.

Scotland said he would return to T&T on Saturday and would be taking instructions from Le Blanc before sharing their side of the story. “We are not afraid of anything and we are not going to run away from any charges. The police can do what they will and we will do what we must within the law,” Scotland said when told his client was facing possible charges.

Le Blanc was reportedly heading out of Port-of-Spain after performing his 2015 hit Phenomenal in the International Groovy Soca Monarch competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah at the time of the incident. In an interview with i95 FM yesterday, president of the Police Service Welfare Association, Insp Anand Ramesar, said the officer who fired at Le Blanc’s vehicle was within his duty and that the entertainer ought to be charged with a criminal offence.

Ramesar was supported by secretary Insp Michael Seales, who said based on investigations, the policeman acted correctly and with restraint, as they are trained to “neutralise” targets deemed to be a threat to state officials by shooting at chest level. He said in any other country Le Blanc would have been a dead man. “Enquiries should be conducted with a view to bring criminal charges against the person who would have breached the escort that day,” Ramesar said.

Speaking on his television programme yesterday, vice-president of the Welfare Association, Insp Roger Alexander, also chastised the driver of the vehicle Le Blanc was in. He accused the driver of tailing the escort in an attempt to breach traffic stops and ignoring repeated calls by the police to desist from the action.

Video evidence
In the video, a marked police car is seen driving along the highway near Aranguez when a policeman appears through the left side of the marked sports utility vehicle (SUV) and fires at the car Le Blanc was in. The video ends after the shooting. Contacted yesterday, Le Blanc said he was not ready to disclose what happened but said all would come to light in due course. He denied, however, that he was following the President’s security detail and that the video would make everything clear.

Sources close to Le Blanc said the entertainer was upset that the police were attempting to cover their ineptness by making him the scapegoat. The source said the driver of the car Le Blanc was in kept as far away from the police vehicle as possible and they only began filming when the driver in the SUV began driving dangerously and forcing cars off the road, almost causing an accident in the process.

 

Source: Trinidad & Tobago Guardian

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