Fearful that the police rank implicated in the shooting of 15-year-old Alex Griffith could try to flee the jurisdiction before facing the formal institution of charges, the attorney for the boy says that the suspect should not be allowed to roam freely.
Attorney Dexter Todd voiced his concerns about the situation as the file on the police’s investigation of the case remains at the office of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) some three weeks after the shooting.
Todd is of the opinion that the police should have approached the High Court and applied for an extension of time to keep the implicated cadet officer in the force’s custody.
The lawyer, while decrying the length of the investigation, said the implicated officer should not be allowed to roam freely. He pointed out that it would not be difficult for the policeman to learn of the advice given by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as it relates to him being charged and he questioned what would stop the officer from feeling the jurisdiction if he learns that he is to be charged with a serious offence.
When told of the lawyer’s concerns, Crime Chief Leslie James it is not practical to hold a person indefinitely. He had previously said that the police want to conduct a thorough investigation into this case given its sensitive nature.
Contacted, Chairman of PCA retired Justice Cecil Kennard told Stabroek News that he hasn’t looked at the file as yet.
He said he will be giving priority to the file on the Colwyn Harding baton rape investigation before looking at Griffith’s case. He said that once he had penned his conclusions in relation to the Harding matter and forwarded it to the police, he will proceed to look at the Griffith file.
He explained that in the Griffith file, there are 34 statements to review. “Police tried to cover all angles,” he said, while noting that the cadet officer, who was stationed at the Mahaica Police Station, found himself at the Ruimveldt Police Station on the night of the shooting. “What was he doing at Ruimveldt when he is based at Mahaica? Police had to cover all angles,” he stressed.
He said the police have got to be given a little time to do their investigations. “If they do a slingshot investigation, I will have to send it back,” he noted.
Griffith has said that it was the cadet officer, who was playing Russian roulette with him, who shot him in the mouth on the night of April 30.
The officer, who was uniformed, had gone to the child’s East La Penitence Squatting Area home to investigate a robbery committed on a close relative. Before going to the area he gathered up about a dozen ranks.
The boy had recounted how he had been detained by the officer and others after they found him at his home.
They grilled him about the identities of the persons who committed the robbery, which he had allegedly witnessed.
The boy explained that he had been at a friend’s home when a robbery occurred outside. He had relayed to the ranks that he was unaware of the robbers’ identities but he was nevertheless taken from his home, without his mother’s consent, and driven around the area.
The police eventually took him in front of the home of one of the suspected robbers in the East La Penitence area. However, the person was not at home.
Griffith said the accused robber’s absence apparently infuriated the cadet officer, who forced him from the police vehicle and ordered him to lie on the ground. The cadet officer, Griffith said, removed all of the bullets from a gun but subsequently replaced one. He then put the gun into the mouth.
The cadet officer, he said, continued to press him for the robbers’ identities. After not receiving an answer, the cadet officer pulled the trigger but nothing happened.
Once again, he asked for the identities of the bandits and, when told by Griffith once again that he did not know, he fired a second time. This time, Griffith said, the gun went off.
After being released from hospital, Griffith identified the cadet officer as his assailant during an identification parade at the Brickdam Police Station.