Apr 18, 2021 News
– Rank who allegedly assaulted victim arrested
Kaieteur News – Ranks from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) have been dispatched to Lethem, Region Nine to conduct investigations into last Thursday’s incident between a Lethem businessman and ranks from the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU). One rank involved in the incident was arrested by police yesterday and is presently in custody assisting with the necessary investigations.The Guyana Police Force (GPF) detailed – in a statement released yesterday – that the “dispatched CID ranks” are part of the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) and will be investigating reports it received about the incident which took place during a joint operation between CANU and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) at Tabatinja, Lethem. Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum further highlighted to Kaieteur News, that incident relates specifically to the alleged assault on the businessman by one of the CANU ranks.
According to CANU Head, James Singh, that rank was arrested yesterday and is being held without bail in Lethem on allegations of assault and discharging a loaded firearm.
Kaieteur News had reported on Friday that the alleged assault was caught on camera. In fact, it was the businessman, Lyndon Franklin who recorded the video while he was detained at the GRA’s Office for smuggling liquor. CANU and GRA had busted him some time after 12:00Hrs with more than 50 cases of illegal liquor during a joint operation they conducted at his house.
In the video Franklin recorded, it could be observed that he was walking towards the rank and could be heard saying,
“This one hay is the one that pulled the trigger. This one hay like shoot. He pulled the trigger this same one hay. He pulled the trigger. He like shoot. He like to shoot. This is the one that shoot up in my yard. Get his face properly.”
As he got closer, the CANU rank being filmed took a firm grip of his rifle and started walking towards Franklin too. As the two got closer to each other, the rank said “Move from in front of me.”, while he raised his rife and hit the businessman.
Speaking with Kaieteur News on Friday, CANU Head, James Singh, affirmed that the rank’s behaviour in the video is indeed questionable. He further added, that based on what he had learnt about the incident, it’s quite evident that his ranks need more training when dealing with suspects.
CANU later sent out a release indicating that its ranks had been “agitated” by the businessman – it continued that, “CANU is holistically reviewing the incident to address the need for further training of its ranks to ensure its ranks are able to withstand civilian agitation and intimidations”.
CANU further advised “civilians to desist from advancing to or attacking its Officials in any way, whilst they are executing their duties.”
When Kaieteur News spoke to Franklin about his behaviour towards the ranks, he said that he was not angry at ranks for busting him for suspected smuggled liquor. He agrees that “no duties were paid on the rum”; however, he is annoyed at the ranks’ behaviour during their operation at his premises. He accused them of being unprofessional and alleged that the rank who assaulted him had wrongfully discharged a round in his yard with children present.
He claimed it was the shooting incident which prompted him to record the ranks while he was detained at the GRA Office. CANU has since stated too, that Franklin was the one who agitated them to shoot in his yard as well.
As investigations into the incident are ongoing, the Rupununi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), based in Lethem, has issued a statement condemning both the alleged assault on the businessman and the ranks’ “unprofessional conduct during the operation they conducted at his premises”. The RCCI’s statement was posted yesterday on Facebook by one of its executive members, Orlando Wong.
In the statement, RCCI, detailed that “CANU needs to withdraw the officers involved in the incident from Lethem and confine them to training facilities to ensure that they comply with established operating procedures while executing their duties”.
With regards to the individual who was caught on camera assaulting Franklin, RCCI stated that “he should be dismissed immediately”.
RCCI added that “it does not have any confidence that the officer has or will conduct himself in a way that fits his profession”.
In an invited comment from RCCI’s President, Daniel Gajie, he explained that “RCCI is in no way condoning unlawful actions where smuggling and other illegal activities are concerned.”
However, it is concerned with the “unprofessionalism of the ranks not only at Franklin’s premises but during other recent operations they conducted as well”
“Law enforcement officers will always meet opposition when conducting their duties. They will be cursed by civilians, but it is their duty to show restraint during such situations especially if the suspects or civilians are unarmed. It should be part of their Standard Operating Procedures,” related the RCCI President.
Gajie continued, “It is clearly wrong for a rank to raise a loaded high-powered rifle on a civilian who was only armed with a cellphone.”
The RCCI president said that the Lethem business community is fearful that if nothing is done, then the CANU ranks will continue with their “unprofessional behaviour”.
GRA however, issued a statement in response, alleging that the CANU ranks were in no way unprofessional during the raid at the businessman’s premises: “The Revenue Authority, noting the various reports circulating in print and social media concerning a seizure of a quantity of unaccustomed goods during a joint service operation in Lethem Region Nine, wishes to set the record straight, and hereby advise the general public that at all times lawful procedures were properly followed”.
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