INVESTIGATING THEIR OWN
So far most of the attention about the shooting of the young man in Agricola has been concerned with who fired the shots that killed him. However, this is not a cut-and-dry issue; the answer is not as clear-cut as it may seem.
Obviously there must be some way of determining which of the ranks shot at the youth or the group of youths. This can be decided through an examination of the rounds that they had in their weapons after the incident. It may also be determined through ballistic tests.
Where the situation gets more complicated is when it comes to determining which of the shots hit the young man and who fired those shots. Ballistics and forensics will have to be used here, but unless the evidence exists, it may be hard to pinpoint who fired the shots that hit the now deceased youth.
But it will get more complicated, because the young man was reportedly hit with more than one bullet. So which one of these bullets was the fatal shot and who fired that specific fatal shot. This issue may have a bearing on the issue of who to charge.
So the issue does not simply boil down to who fired shots. In making out a case of murder, the police have to be clear as to who fired and which of the fired shots actually hit the now deceased, and which of these shots were responsible for his death.
But the puzzle does not end there. All of the above is premised on the fact that the police may have used disproportionate and unnecessary force. But the police are claiming that they were responding to fire from the youths. A gun was reported to have been retrieved from the scene.
Now if indeed shots were fired at the police, this places a completely different complexion on this case. If the police were fired at, then they would have had a right to defend themselves. And if death was as a result of the police defending themselves after coming under attack, it means that this entire case can take on a different dimension.
So far the media has not paid too much attention towards the aspect as to whether the police were indeed fired upon. The police‘s side must also be considered and judgment must not be passed against them unless their story can be proven to be without merit or a factual basis.
And so it is important that all the facts be known before conclusions are arrived at, because if indeed as the police claimed they were fired upon, then they would have been within their right to take steps to protect their own lives.
There are persons out there who have however made up their minds about what happened. In their estimation, the police were responsible for the death of the young man and nothing you can tell then will change that opinion. They even refuse to accept that a shot or shots may have been fired at the police.
In circumstances where more publicity is being given to one version as against another version, it would be unwise for anyone to make premature assessments of what may have happened. Yet this is exactly what happened when one person was claiming that the young man was executed while on the ground. This would have to be determined by the forensic experts who would also have to explain the possible scenarios that could account for other bullet wounds.
The situation has become so emotional that people are now beginning to question whether the police would conduct an impartial investigation where their own ranks are concerned.
If after every death involving the police, overseas experts have to be flown in, we are going to have a serious crisis of law enforcement. The police force must be allowed to carry out their investigations.
If we have reached a stage in this country where the police cannot undertake their own investigations, then it is time to dissolve the Guyana Police Force and reconstitute a new force.
The Guyana Police Force must take steps to restore greater confidence in its ability to fairly investigate cases involving its own ranks. It should after it would have accumulated the evidence in this case, invite reputable persons within society with knowledge and skills in forensics and ballistics to examine their investigative methods.
In short, what is needed is an audit of the process to ensure that no stones were left unturned, no evidence tampered with, and nothing covered up. This would help assuage the fears of those who are suspicious of the police investigating their own.