Sep 14, 2012 News Comments Off on Top Cop meets relatives of Agricola shooting victim
– invited to community for talks with youths
In a move that could lead to the diffusing of tension following the fatal shooting of an Agricola youth last Tuesday, Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell met yesterday with relatives at his office in Eve Leary.
The 45-minute meeting was essentially for the Top Cop to address the concerns of the relatives of 17-year-old Shaquille Grant, who was shot dead by members of a police mobile patrol unit, as well as the four other youths who were rounded up and subsequently released from police custody yesterday.
While the police have put forward the position that the police responded to gunfire from a gang of youths in the village, residents, including persons who claimed to be eyewitnesses, are maintaining that the unarmed Grant was executed by the ranks.
In what was described as a cordial atmosphere, the Commissioner first extended condolences to the grieving relatives who were accompanied by social activist Mark Benschop, before promising a speedy investigation into the matter.
The relatives who included the dead teen’s grandfather, expressed concern that the police have been disrespecting the youths of the Agricola community, stigmatising them as criminals. They told the commissioner that several heavily-armed ranks had also visited the community on Wednesday night and intimidated mourners at the young man’s wake.
The Agricola delegation advised that the ranks who were involved in the shooting be placed on desk duty until the determination of the investigation being presently undertaken by the police’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
They also extended an invitation to Commissioner Brumell, for him and a team of high level police officers to visit Agricola and meet with residents, especially the young men, with a view to re-establishing a good relationship, so as to avoid a similar occurrence.
Following the meeting in his office with the relatives, the Commissioner went down to meet with protesters outside the Eve Leary compound.
From all indications, the protesters, who were mostly from Agricola, were satisfied with the commitments given by Brumell.
The Top Cop was given the benefit of the doubt by the residents to make good on the commitments following the post mortem examination on Grant’s body which will be done today.
Mark Benschop in an invited comment said that it is the first time in his years as an activist that he has seen a Commissioner of Police meet with grieving relatives of a police shooting victim as well as persons protesting his office.
“This is highly commendable. I do hope that it was not just for a photo opportunity for the Commissioner. These relatives are seeking justice and he has to prove his doubters wrong that he will reign in rogue cops and ensure that this is the last time that a youth is killed by police ranks in similar circumstances.”
Benschop said that Brumell should be given an opportunity to prove that the police can dispense justice fairly and “return the office of the Commissioner of Police to some form of professionalism”.
“There must be absolutely no cover-up. Mr. Brumell now has the opportunity to remove the bitterness that the people have against the Guyana Police Force. It should have started after the Linden killings, but it did not happen. I am hoping that this will be the last such killing,” Benschop said.
Meanwhile, attorney at law Nigel Hughes has written to the Commissioner requesting that a relative of the slain youth, along with their legal representative, be allowed to witness today’s post mortem examination.
According to Hughes, who is acting on behalf of the mother of the dead Shaquille Grant, his client’s confidence in the independence and investigative capacities of the Guyana Police Force is severely challenged.
“We have already spoken with eyewitnesses to the homicide who have expressed mortal fear
of the Guyana Police Force. We believe that the investigation into the shooting of Mr. Grant may benefit from the assistance of your colleagues in one of the Region’s Police services,” Hughes wrote.
The attorney has also written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, informing her that he has obtained a statement from an eyewitness who has been expressing fear for her life.
Hughes told the DPP that he is prepared to cooperate directly with her on the acquisition and presentation of evidence uncovered in this homicide.
“We have elected to write directly to you because of the witness’ real fear that she will be placed in considerable jeopardy if her identity was revealed to the Guyana Police Force. We are prepared to share the original of the statement with you personally. However until we are assured that the witness’ safety is not compromised or threatened, we are unlikely to have her engage with the Guyana Police Force.”
Hughes said that it is his hope that the DPP appreciates the low confidence some citizens of the country have in the independence and investigative capacity of the Guyana Police Force.
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