Boy, 15, shot in mouth by cop

-beaten by lawmen during questioning about robbery, mother says

By Dacia Whaul

 

Held for questioning about a robbery, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the mouth by a policeman after being beaten late Wednesday night.

Police yesterday an-nounced that the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Alex Christopher Griffith, of the East La Penitence Squatting Area, were under investigation and that the rank responsible is under close arrest. “The incident occurred during the response to a report of robbery with aggravation committed on a relative of the rank earlier in the evening,” police said in a statement on the shooting.

The boy is now an admitted patient at the Georgetown Public Hos-pital (GPH), nursing a gunshot wound to the back of his throat.

His mother, Marcel Griffith, told Stabroek News that it was about 10pm when she heard calls for ‘Caveman.’ She explained that she did not answer even though she knew her son was called by the alias, because, “My son name Alex Christopher Griffith.” Marcel said a few seconds later she saw 12 police officers on the dam, and three of them entered her yard and identified themselves as police ranks. She said they kept asking for ‘Caveman’ but she told them “me ain’t got no Caveman living here.” The police, she explained, then asked for Alex and she in turn asked why they wanted her son. At first they told her nothing had happened but after she repeatedly questioned them, they informed her that he knew about a robbery that occurred in the area and that they needed to question him in an effort to nab the suspected thief.

Alex Griffith recovering at the Georgetown Public Hospital after being shot in the mouth by a policeman.
Alex Griffith recovering at the Georgetown Public Hospital after being shot in the mouth by a policeman.

By this point Alex, who was at home, had emerged and informed the police that he knew nothing about the robbery and could not say who committed the crime. The woman related that her son told the officers that he had been at a neighbour’s house watching an “8 o’clock movie” when the robbery supposedly occurred.

One of the officers, Marcel said, insisted in a loud tone that Alex knew about the robbery and demanded he leave with them.

The angry mother said when she returned into her house to retrieve a top to accompany Alex to the station, the police exited the yard with the boy. “I run and go behind he,” she said, adding “when they [the police and Alex] reach by the bridge, a police in brown clothes pull out he gun and lash he (Alex) in he belly.” She said Alex fell to the ground, only to have the five officers surrounding him force him back up.

“Them ain’t come as police,” she said. “Them come as criminals.”

She said the officers treated Alex “like if he is some forty-year-old man that murdered somebody.” Once he was back on his feet, she added, the police took him to the neighbour to verify that Alex was watching television.

The neighbour confirmed Alex’s story, according to Marcel. “They cruel my child,” she lamented as she reiterated that the neighbour informed them that Alex was with them at the time the robbery occurred.

 

‘I hear a shot fire off’

Marcel said the police officers, including one in civilian clothes that she can identify, rushed Alex to the back of that neighbour’s yard, where they all kicked him about his body. Marcel said they placed Alex on his knees, kicked him, stamped him on his calves and to his groin, causing the lad to cry out in pains.

“That is when I run to the back,” she said, adding that she was watching the abuse meted out to her son all the while. However, she said, she was held back by the ranks who abused her son when she rushed to his rescue.

Marcel Griffith (second from right in foreground), her daughter (second from left in foreground) engaging senior officers from the Guyana Police Force yesterday afternoon during a visit prompted by the shooting  of 15-year-old Alex Griffith by a policeman. The teen was detained by policemen for questioning about a robbery at the time he was shot. (Photo by Joseph Spence)
Marcel Griffith (second from right in foreground), her daughter (second from left in foreground) engaging senior officers from the Guyana Police Force yesterday afternoon during a visit prompted by the shooting of 15-year-old Alex Griffith by a policeman. The teen was detained by policemen for questioning about a robbery at the time he was shot. (Photo by Joseph Spence)

The officer who is alleged to have eventually shot the teen, Marcel said, told her that Alex would know about the robbery before the evening ended. She added that in spite of the other ranks asking the lawman to release the lad, whose face was swollen by then, the officer ordered them to throw Alex into the police van.

She said, the ranks did the officer’s bidding and they informed her that she could collect her son at the Brickdam Police Station.

“When I coming back here [home] now,” Marcel recounted, “I hear a shot fire off—blam!” After hearing the shot, she told her daughter that she feared Alex might have tried to run away from the police.

However, she said it was only after she received a call from a nurse from GPH that she knew Alex was shot.

She said she met an almost unconscious Alex at the hospital, bleeding profusely from the mouth and hooked up to a machine. She said nurses later told her that they had drawn two pints of blood from his mouth and that he was unable to speak.

Marcel said, at about 7am yesterday she received a call from a woman who identified herself as the wife of the police officer who allegedly shot Alex. “Since she say so,” Marcel added, “I turn off up my phone.”

“I need justice,” lamented Marcel, as she voiced fears that the policeman may not be penalised for the crime committed against her son.

She further questioned why the police officer shot her minor son, even after he denied any knowledge of the robbery. “I want to know if he got children,” she said.

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