|Police responsible for Linden killing; "shooting" to scare "hostile" crowd justified||| Print ||
|Written by Denis Scott Chabrol|
|Friday, 01 March 2013 13:34|
A Commission of Inquiry has found that Guyanese police were responsible for the shooting death of three persons and although the discharge of rounds was “somewhat reckless,” the action was “justified” because the crowd was “hostile.”
Survivors of the deceased, a number of those injured and those whose property was lost or damaged have been compensated as a favour rather than a legal obligation. The state-owned National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) was not awarded compensation for the burning down of the Linmine building because the commission said the government could not compensate itself.
Agitation had reached its peak on that fateful day as residents to reject a hike in electricity rates due to the now shelved plan to reduce government’s subsidy that is paid to the bauxite company, BOSAI Minerals, to produce current for the town.
The five-member commission states in its report that “we believe that the police were responsible for the shooting to death of the three persons as well as the injuries caused to several other persons at
Government has not officially released the document which was Thursday presented by Commission Chairman, Justice Lensley Wolfe to President Donald Ramotar who had commissioned the probe.
While the commissioners found that Assistant Superintendent of Police Todd was “somewhat reckless” in discharging four rounds of ammunition in the direction of the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge on and near where there were hundreds of persons, they state in their report that the police action was warranted.
“Nonetheless the discharge of ammunition itself by the police in the circumstances described by ASP Todd was justified having regard to the fact that the police were confronted by a very hostile crowd and there was no clear intention on the part of the police to kill or cause injury to anyone,” states the report.
The commission concluded that the police’s “apparent intention was to scare the protestors into removing from the Bridge.”
The Commission of Inquiry blamed organisers and politicians for the escalation of tension on that fateful day by failing to advise the protesters to obey police orders by a loudhailer and a banner to remove from the bridge. Those named are Region 10 Chairman, Sharma Solomon and other politicians- Aubrey Norton, Vanessa Kissoon and Desmond Trotman. “What transpired on the Bridge on July 18, 2012 could have been avoided if some of the influential Community persons had intervened and advised the protestors to display due respect for the law.”
According to the document, the shooting of Buckshot #00 pellets at persons in the crowd, however, is “another matter and not surprisingly was not owned by anyone. The use of such lethal force was not justified in the circumstances.”
In the body of the report, the Commission said that while there was no direct evidence to unreservedly conclude that the three- Ron Somerset, Allan Lewis and Shemroy Bouyea- were fatally shot by the police detachment on the bridge. At the same time, the commissioners said there was no direct evidence that anyone other than the police was armed with firearms on the bridge on July 18.
With respect to the use of Buckshot #00 pellets the commissioners said that although police had denied using that type of ammunition for the past seven to 10 years, questions could be raised whether there were one, two or three persons who had had that type of ammo in their possession. The probe team of legal luminaries noted that the police records appeared unreliable and irregular. “Examination of the Arms Book in which the type of weapon and ammunition assigned to persons are entered does not disclose any such ammunition being issued. However the Commission is of this view that the entries in the book cannot be relied on as there were numerous irregularities evident therein,” according to their report.
The Commissioners reported that there was no evidence given at the hearings to support the assertion that Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee had given instructions to the Guyana Police Force in relation to the incident on July 18 other than testimony from the Minister that he gave a general direction on July 17th 2012 to the Commissioner that he should take all lawful steps to maintain law and order in Linden.
The Commissioners also recommended that the
The Commission further recommended a management audit of the Guyana Police Force by local, regional and Commonwealth experts in light of inaccurate and unreliable record keeping as it relates to deployment of personnel, uplifting of arms and ammunition, inventory of ammunition belonging to firearms dealers, etc. “It was with some difficulty that we were able to have particular records synchronised and reconciled. This weakness has to be addressed as it can affect discipline, operations, accountability, etc,” states the report.
The commissioners believed that there was too much centralization of decision-making which could potentially affect the efficiency of ground commanders. The police force was flayed for not having high-ranking officers on the ground to make assessments and give direction.
The militaristic tactics by the police force, according to the Commission, should be left to the defence force.
3 (d) Make recommendations for compensation where necessary for injury, loss or damage as a consequence of the events of July 18, 2012.
• As we see it, this term is quite wide. It enables us to recommend the payment of compensation, irrespective of whether or not we find that the police were in any way culpable for their actions on July 18. We can make recommendations for the payment of compensation by the State where we find it is necessary to do so. However, any payment of compensation recommended has to be ex-gratia (as a favour rather from legal obligation).
• As a result of the incident on the
• In making our recommendations we considered all the circumstances in which persons suffered loss.
• He was 24 years old. At the time of his death he was employed as a handyman by one Ramesh at his snackette in the Market at Mackenzie. He assisted in supporting his two brothers who were unable to work because of their mental condition and they would therefore lose that support. He himself appears not to have been in particularly good health. According to Gordon Callender, he did odd jobs. His mother is a security guard who also assisted in supporting the family. She earns $30,000 per month. It follows, therefore, that Shemroy was not the only person providing financial support of his family.
• We do not believe that he earned as much as ten thousand dollars per week. Shemroy was a relatively young person (24 years). Because of the peculiar family circumstances we feel that a sum of three million dollars ($3,000,000) should be awarded to his estate. This amount must be held in escrow and is to be paid only on the presentation of Probate or Letters of Administration.
• He was 46 years old. At the time of his death he was self employed doing various jobs, including carpentry, masonry and painting. He was however not employed at all times. He left to mourn two young children ages 19 and 21 years respectively, one of whom is attending the
• Allan supported both of his children who are now left without any substantial support. His mother is a pensioner. We do not believe that the son, Rodwell, who attends the
• He was 18 years old at the time of his death and was attending the Technical Institute at
• In this circumstance we award the sum of only one million dollars ($2,000,000) for loss of life. This sum also must be held in escrow and only be paid on the presentation of Letters of Administration or Probate.
• A large number of persons suffered gunshot injuries, some of whom were part of the protest, which we took into consideration in making our recommendations. These injured persons were either on the Mackenzie-Wismar bridge or in the vicinity of the bridge, and the possibility exists that they were injured by pellets which were discharged from firearms which the Police used, particularly ASP Todd who said he fired towards the ground and there was the possibility that persons in the area would have been shot.
• He said that he was fully aware when he did the ricochet firing it was at the crowd. It would be down and then ricochet towards the crowd. He said this twice. He took shot guns from Sergeant Junor and PC Parker and discharged four cartridges in the direction of the bridge where the crowd was.
• We have dealt with each case separately and have recommended amounts which we felt were reasonable.
• Sheila Austin
• She carried on a small shop in front of her house and was not part of the protest. She was in search of her nephew when she was shot on her right leg and right hand. Her income could not have been much. She must have lost some income for a few days and suffered some measure of pain.
• The amount awarded to her is fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
• Vladimir Glasgow
• He received certain minor injuries to his left arm and left leg, and was injured when he was recording on his video camera the events that were taking place on July 18 in the vicinity of the bridge. He was not seen by a doctor.
• We do not feel that he was in any way incapacitated and lost any income. An award of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) is made to him as he must have suffered some measure of pain as a result of the injuries received.
• Aliesha Barker
• She was not part of the protest but had gone in search of her son. She suffered injuries to both legs. A pellet was removed from her left leg. This was done at a hospital in Berbice. She incurred certain medical and travelling expenses.
• We feel that two hundred and eighty thousand dollars ($280,000) should be paid to her as most of the expenses incurred related to her medical treatment. She was unemployed at the time.
• Reuben Bowen
• He was shot in the left leg and was a vendor in the interior. Even though the Surgeon, Dr. Joseph, who examined him quite recently, was of the opinion that Reuben would be unable to work for another year, we are of the opinion, having observed him, that he is quite capable of doing some sort of work. He should not fold his hands and do nothing. He was one of the several persons who inflated their loss and was part of the protest.
• Bearing in mind that he was part of the protest and is capable of doing some sort of work, we award him the sum of three hundred and ninety thousand dollars ($390,000) part of which is for travelling expenses, and pain and suffering.
• Jemeke Brummell
• He works at a car wash and had suffered injuries to his right leg. He was in the vicinity of the bridge and it would appear that he was part of the protest. He was another person who had exaggerated his loss of earnings. As a worker at a car wash he could not have been earning as much as $15,000 per week.
• We feel that an award of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) is appropriate which is for loss of earnings, and travelling expenses incurred.
vi. Janice Burgan
• She was part of the protest and had assisted in placing debris on the bridge. She received injuries to her left upper back. She was, and still is, a seamstress and is capable of continuing her work. It would seem that she attempted to mislead the Commission as to her earnings as at one time she said her earnings were $20,000 per month but later said it was $17,000 per week. We were not impressed by her evidence as it relates to her earnings.
• We feel that a total sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) should be paid to her.
• Ulric Cameron
• He works at a tyre shop on the Mackenzie side of the river and was on his way home on the
• He was admitted to
• We feel that an amount of four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) is reasonable. He also attempted to mislead us as to his earnings. However his injuries seem serious.
• Mortimer Cornel
• He is self employed and operated a car wash and does some farming. He lives on the Mackenzie side of the bridge. On July 18, 2012 he was crossing the bridge from the
• This witness impressed us as a truthful witness. He said his total loss including loss of earnings is $155,000. There should be an award of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) in his favour.
• Michael Roberts
• He is a miner and on July 18 he was waiting on his wife who works as a Cleaner at the Wismar Magistrate’s Court. He was under a tent near the Linmine Secretariat when he was shot on his mouth. He lost four (4) teeth as a result. He was admitted to the
• His case is a very sad one as he would be unable to continue mining. He has lost 20 pounds since July 18. In the circumstances, we recommend an award of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000).
• Yolanda Hinds
• She is a ward maid at the
• Her injury, not being of a serious nature, an award of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) is made in her favour.
• Dexter Scotland
• He is a shop owner. He was shot in his left nostril and spent twenty (20) days in hospital. He was standing on the eastern side of the bridge among a crowd of people when he was shot.
• A CT Scan revealed that there are two small pellets in the floor of the nasal spectrum. He cannot eat properly nor open his mouth to laugh. He feels cramps in his face at regular intervals.
• An award of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($350,000) is appropriate.
• Hector Solomon
• He is a Porter and part time DJ. He had assisted to place the music set which was used for the meeting on the bridge, after which he was standing nearby. When the Police discharged their firearms he started to run and was shot on his left upper chest. He was admitted to the
• He said he has been unable to work since, which we do not believe. We were not convinced about his evidence. This witness had also made an attempt to mislead us. He wants us to believe that he earns as much as $24,000 per week as a Porter. This cannot be true. His medical and other expenses have not been proved as his father who paid same is overseas and did not testify before us.
• We are satisfied that he did receive injury to the chest and must have suffered some measure of pain. The award in his favour was one hundred and twenty thousand dollars ($120,000).
• Hugh Stephens
• He is a building contractor and had chaired the meeting on the bridge after which, he was returning to the
• Even though he did not return to give evidence as to his loss of earnings and medical expenses so far incurred, we must do our best to award him a sum which seems reasonable bearing in mind that he is presently blind in the right eye and has to seek medical attention abroad. He must have lost some income as he was a building contractor. It must be noted that he ought not to have chaired the meeting as no permission had been granted for the meeting to be held on the bridge.
• Accordingly, we award him a sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000).
Loss of Property
• Payments under this Head also have to be ex-gratia.
• From the evidence, it can be concluded that those were set on fire by the protestors. There is evidence that the protestors were in the compound of the Secretariat when fire was seen coming from the building. There is also the certificate from the fire department which revealed that the building was maliciously set on fire. In addition, there is evidence that the protestors had threatened to burn down the town.
• The difficulty however is whether or not we can make a recommendation for the payment of compensation under this Head. The Secretariat is the property of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) which, according to Mr. Winston Brassington, the Executive Director, is fully owned by the Government of Guyana, the only shareholder.
• This Government entity was established during the regime of President Desmond Hoyte some years ago (1990). We cannot see how we can make a recommendation for the Government of Guyana to pay itself. This would be absurd. Accordingly the payment of compensation is not recommended.
• He was one of the organizers of the protest. After the meeting on the bridge had ended, he remained on the bridge. Whilst there, according to him, the police started to discharge their guns. He started to run leaving a camera and a computer on the bridge. He never got them back. We are not convinced that he lost anything and are therefore unable to award him anything.
PPP/C Building and its contents
• Compton Fraser, organizer of the PPP/C building which was clearly set on fire by the protestors stated that he visited the building on the morning of July 19. He saw several items in it damaged. A list of the items damaged and the amount it would cost to put the building back in order was prepared by a building contractor and verified by Fraser. It revealed that the cost of replacing the damaged items and to repair the building was two million five hundred and seven thousand dollars ($2,507,000). This amount cannot be awarded. We award a sum of four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000).
Loss of logs by Mariabo Investments Inc.
• It would appear that the logs were removed by the protestors from a trailer in order to block the bridge. The amount claimed is US$4,305 which is approximately G$861,000.
• The award under this Head is two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) as it appears to us that the amount of the loss was grossly exaggerated.
Destruction of lorry owned by Narindra Latchman
• He lost a lorry, an excavator, a pressure pump and a quantity of tools which were set on fire by the protestors. These were in the area of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) building which is North East of the bridge. The total cost of the lorry etc given by Latchman is $14,200,000.
• The amount awarded to him is three million dollars ($3,000,000) as these items were not new ones and the lorry and the excavator should have been insured.
Ramchand Jewan Mangra
• He had assisted the Police on the morning of July 19th 2012 to cut the logs, which were blocking the bridge, in order for them to be removed from the bridge.
• Subsequently, his plucking station was vandalized and everything in it was removed from its site. Even the shed of the building was removed. He said his total loss was one million three hundred and sixty thousand dollars ($1,360,000).
• Having examined Mangra’s evidence, it seems rather strange that all the equipment in the building and the zinc sheets which were on the building were removed. We are convinced that Mangra did not testify truthfully as to his actual loss. We feel that an award of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) is appropriate as he must have suffered some loss.
• His lorry and a trailer, on which the logs of MARIABO Investment inc. were carried, were completely destroyed as a result of being set on fire by the protestors. He placed a value of eight million dollars ($8,000,000) on the lorry and trailer. We award him two million dollars ($2,000,000) as the vehicles should have been insured and they were not new.
David Shemroy Vigilance
• He is a beverage vendor and was in the vicinity of the bridge. He said he was beaten by the Police, who removed his gold chain from his neck and in a struggle with the Police he lost two gold rings. He also discovered that the sum of $300,000, which was in a bag which he had, was missing.
• He did not impress us as a witness of truth although it is possible that he may have lost his gold chain and been beaten by the Police. We cannot award him more than forty thousand dollars ($40,000).
• He was the owner of a fuel tanker which was set on fire by the protestors when the driver was attempting to cross from the
• His award is two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000) as he ought to have insured his motor vehicle to cover any loss.
• He had loaned his music set and other accessories to Vanessa Kissoon, a member of the Guyana Parliament for the purpose of the protest on July 18. This set was placed on the bridge by Hector Solomon (jnr.) and others for the purpose of the meeting which was held on the bridge.
• His suggestion was that these were thrown into the
• Seeing that the set was used for an unlawful purpose, we would award him a sum of only fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
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