Commission hears about Rohee bypassing Top Cop and calling junior ranks
By Latoya Giles
Acting Police Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell has admitted to the commission that although he would have meetings with the Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee, the minister would at times bypass him and directly contact junior ranks.
The hearing into the Commission of Inquiry, for the shooting to death of three protestors at Linden started yesterday morning. Justice Lensley Wolfe O.J., Mr. K.D. Knight S.C and Ms. Dana Seetahal S.C along with Guyana’s former Court of Appeal Judge, Claudette Singh, CCH and Cecil Kennard were all present.
The commissioner at the time was being cross examined by attorney at law Nigel Hughes who is representing the interest of the victims.
Hughes yesterday put to the commissioner that Minister Rohee had bypassed him and had called the divisional commander Clifton Hicken less than 45 minutes before the shooting, before the police had sought to use deadly force at the Mackenzie Bridge. According to the lawyer he intends to establish that there was contact between Rohee and the commander discussing the use of force.
The commissioner was asked whether meetings between the minister and him are recorded or if they would have minutes. According to the commissioner they were some recordings and correspondence. Hughes then asked the commissioner if he had met with the minister prior to the July 18, 2012 shooting.
Brumell said that he met with the Minister on July 17, 2012 in his office and there is no record of the meeting. The commissioner further told the inquiry that he did not brief the minister with the intelligence information he received. The commissioner was then asked if the minister has direct communication with ranks below him. According to Brumell the minister would call the ranks and it’s a practice which has been ongoing for some time.
He was then asked if he knew the minister’s cell phone number, to which Hughes called out. He admitted that he knew the number. Hughes then asked the commissioner if prior to the shooting he received a call from the minister and answered in the positive. The commissioner was asked if the minister requested Commander Hickens’s cell number. According to Brumell he could not recall.
The question was put to the commissioner about whether he had knowledge about a call which was placed by the minister between 5:15 pm to 5:55 pm to the commander’s phone. Brumell said he did not know about that. Hughes further put to the commissioner whether it would be correct to say that you never investigated whether the minister gave direct instruction to the ranks. The commissioner said he did not do so. He was asked if he checked the commander’s phone records, to which he said no.
Brumell was then asked if he was aware that commander Hickens was accused of using excessive force in the past. “Are you talking about Buxton…” the commissioner asked and the lawyer said he was not talking about that. According to the commissioner, Hickens told him that the ranks used pellets and tear gas.
Hughes further asks the commissioner if he has seen any reports on the shooting and he said that he had not received any reports of the Linden Shooting incident, since the investigation is still incomplete. Brumell said that he expects the file on the completion of the report. According to the commissioner no one in Linden was cooperating with the police.
Moreover the commissioner said that the video recording of the Linden incident by the police did not capture actual shooting by Police. He said that video ended as shooting started. Brumell said that he was told that there was “some difficulty” which caused the camera not to capture that part.
“The camera did not capture that part, the footage is about 15 minutes long and the video was just showing the backs of the officers” Brumell told the inquiry. However the same video that only showed the backs of the officers, has shown the persons who were allegedly throwing missiles at the police, Brumell said. The commissioner is to make that video tape available to the court today.
Brumell was then asked if the police have a procedure of the use of lethal force in the Guyana Police Force, and he said no. There was a loud heckle from the persons who were present. Brumell was then asked about a statement which was made by the Crime Chief that the fragments from the bullets were not from the police. The commissioner said he knew nothing about that. According to the commissioner the statement was wrong, but he never placed a disclaimer. He was then asked if the crime scene ranks visited the scene, and according to Brumell the ranks did so.
Hughes further asked if the crime scene ranks recreated the event to determine where the exact location the shots were fired from was and where the persons were standing on the bridge, he said he was working on it. The commissioner was then asked if his ranks could determine the distance from where the persons were shot. According to Brumell his ranks are trained to determine that.
He was then asked if his force had a forensic capability, the commissioner could not say. The commissioner has promised to bring several documents and videotaping concerning the shooting today when the inquiry continues.