Linden Commission of Inquiry hears…One handgun submitted for tests after shooting
- Pellets cannot be traced to any particular firearm
By Zena Henry
After the July 18 shooting in Linden, the police force submitted one .38 Taurus revolver belonging to a Sergeant for ballistics testing to be conducted. He said that none of the weapon’s bullets were given to him to be examined.
That was part of the evidence provided yesterday by Sergeant Eon Jackson, who is attached to Criminal Investigation Department at Eve Leary as the fingerprint technician.
He is also the force’s firearm and ammunition examiner. He gave his evidence before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the July 18 Linden shooting that left three people dead and dozens injured.
Jackson testified that he received no weapon from former E and F Commander Clifton Hicken and Assistant Superintendent Walter Stanton for testing.
His testimony contradicted comments by Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell and Crime Chief Seelall Persaud in the wake of the shooting. They had said that the police had submitted weapons for testing.
Persaud had stated that only four police cartridges were missing from those issued for the Linden event.
Jackson, responding to questions posed by Attorney for the people, Nigel Hughes, said that to know if a fragment, bullet or shell came from a police gun, the police would have to bring the firearm for testing to ascertain whether that gun fired the ammunition.
Jackson testified that Detective Inspector Alexander brought samples of 00 Buck shots with copper coating which are components of a cartridge in three separate containers. The ammunition, he understood, came from the bodies of Ron Somerset, Allan Lewis and Shemroy Bouyea.
The expert could not say the gauge of weapon from which the ammunition was taken, but he said that it was the ammunition a shotgun normally used. He said that the pellets in the three containers could not be traced to any particular firearm.
Jackson said that he knows the police to use Winchester and Mossberg pump action shotguns, and the 00 cartridges could be fired from either weapon. He however said that in his 17 years in the firearm field, he did not know the force to use 00 Buck shots until he heard his boss say that the police stopped using the ammunition in 2005.
Under further questioning, Jackson said that bullets fired at protestors in Linden did not ricochet from any surface. He said for one to determine such an action, the bullet would have debris from the surface it hits, and would become deformed.
He testified that none of the bullets taken from the three victims had the two mandatory features which are necessary in determining that the bullet had ricocheted. He could not say the distance from which those killed in Linden were shot.
When questioned by Commissioner K.D. Knights, Jackson said that had he been given firearm cartridges, he would have been able to determine which guns the items came from.
He said that normally, when there is a police shooting, casings and firearms from police ranks would be submitted to him, but in this case (Linden incident) that did not occur. He said, also, that he does not know whether shells from Linden were collected following the shootings.
Jackson testified that after testing the only handgun that was given to him, he found no gunpowder residue, meaning that the gun was not fired. For clarity, Jackson told the Commissioners that he is not a ballistics expert.
The witness said that that field covers a large scope of areas than what is done in Guyana. He instead said he is a firearm and ammunition examiner.
Pathologist Nehaul Singh also testified at the COI yesterday. He gave evidence relating to the post mortem examinations conducted on the three men who died during the Linden unrest.
Singh said that Ron Somerset died from three gunshot wounds in the body, one on the left thigh; another wound was on the right leg, under the knee. Another gunshot wound was found on the right chest going downwards to the left.
Metal fragments were taken from the thigh and one from the chest. He said Somerset died from hemorrhage and shock as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.
Singh said that Allan Lewis died from two gunshot wounds from the back to the front of the chest. Two metal fragments were recovered and given to the police. Lewis died from perforation of the lung and stomach due to gunshot wounds.
Shemroy Bouyea received one gunshot wound from front to back. One metal fragment was given to the police. Singh said that Bouyea died from perforation of the heart and lung due to gunshot injury.
The doctor said there was no gunshot residue, which meant that the men were shot from a distance of more than three to five feet. Singh however said he was unable to determine from what type of gun the objects from the dead men’s body came.
He said that he handed the items to one Inspector Alexander.
Three injured during the protest
Three persons also testified to injuries they received during the July 18 protest in Linden. The first witness on the stand was Robin Bowen, a 56-year-old vendor who sells pastries and other food items in the interior.
The man said that he was between the toll booth and the Mackenzie/Wismar Bridge when he was shot.
He stated that since his injury he has not returned to the interior to ply his trade because the bullet has not yet been extracted from his body. Bowen also testified that the police on July 18 struck him with a piece of wood. He said he was later taken to the hospital.
Bowen however said that he could not identify the persons who shot him since it was dark and he was in a lot of pain.
Sheila Austin was next before the Commission. The 37-year-old vendor said that she had been affected by tear smoke when police released it on the Mackenzie/Wismar Bridge on July 18. The woman said she had to go to river and wash her face along with her nephew who was in her company at the time of the incident.
Another witness, Lennox Campbell, said that he was heading home from his handyman job at Wismar on July 18 when he sustained injuries on the Mackenzie/ Wismar Bridge. The man said he was heading to his home on the Mackenzie end of the bridge when he fell.
He said he was picked up by a police rank and a young woman and taken to the hospital where he stayed overnight.