The mother of Dameon Belgrave remains unconvinced that it was a third policeman who had fired the fatal bullet at her son; she believes that his introduction during the preliminary inquiry was a ploy to get the case thrown out of court.
Five weeks after policemen Sheldon Williams and Errol Williams were unexpectedly freed of a manslaughter charge, a grief-stricken Donna Sulker called on the police to reopen the case so that the guilty policeman can be placed before the courts. She said that she is yet to be updated by the relevant authorities about the case.
“We want justice. We need justice,” the woman said while adding that she is depending on
her lawyer to press the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to ensure that justice is served.
Stabroek News has since learnt from a source close to the case that after the duo was freed on May 8, the DPP instructed the police to charge the third policeman who was implicated as a result of the testimony given to the court. Based on what this newspaper was told this has not been done and that policeman is still attached to a police station in `C’ Division (East Coast).
Efforts by Stabroek News to contact senior police officials including Crime Chief Leslie James on this issue were futile.
Sulker recently went through aspects of the various court appearances she attended. She said she is of the firm view that the court freed the guilty man and that the police are now pointing at a third rank to make him the scapegoat.
She told Stabroek News that she attended all the court hearings. She recalled that on the occasions before May 8 when the case was dismissed, both the prosecutor and the lawyers for the accused gave their closing arguments.
She recalled that on May 8, she had a suspicion that the matter would have been thrown out and when the magistrate announced that she had to go with the defence attorney and uphold the no-case submission she was not surprised.
According to Sulker, the magistrate explained everything that was happening before telling the duo that they were free to go.
When Belgrave was shot on October 6, 2012 by a policeman, a day before his 22nd birthday, three policemen were implicated. Almost two months later police charged only two.
Sulker told Stabroek News that after the duo was charged she asked the prosecutor why the third policeman was not charged. She said the prosecutor told her that the rank’s gun was not used in that shooting and as such no charge was instituted against him.
She said that when Police Ballistics Expert Detective Sergeant Eon Jackson read the ballistics report, it said something different. She said it was this witness who implicated the third rank identified as Constable Fraser. The witness according to her had said that the bullet retrieved from Belgrave’s body matched the high powered rifle that Constable Fraser had that night. According to him, there were three guns, two AK 47s and a handgun.
Added to all the confusion, Constable Fraser was the first witness in the case to testify. The ballistics expert would have testified some time after.
According to Sulker, from the time the information about the third policeman was revealed in court, persons started telling her that she was fighting a losing battle and that nothing will come out of the matter. “From then I knew that nothing wouldn’t come out of it,” she said adding that even though she had her doubts she was depending on some forensic evidence that she was told was to be brought before the court. She said that the evidence was never presented. She recalled that the constable who had to testify on this evidence was always in court but he was unable to testify.
She said she had visited the office of the Attorney General on three occasions in connection with her son’s case but was unable to see him.
The woman said that although the evidence about the third policeman was given she was unconvinced after listening to some of the testimony. She noted that the day one of the defence counsel made his no-case submission he included the evidence about the third policeman. The woman noted that after the witness had given that piece of evidence neither the defence nor the prosecution quizzed him about it.
“I am saying that is a deliberate thing [suddenly pointing a finger at the third rank]”, she said, adding that all the time it was just the two ranks and then suddenly there was a change in the information.
Based on what she said just before the ballistics expert gave his evidence the prosecutor showed her a paper from the DPP for ranks of the Brickdam Police Station to pick up Constable Fraser. However the ranks at that station, according to her, claimed that when they went to his home, he was not there.
She said after that she never saw the prosecutor again as he was replaced by someone else. Sulker questioned why the prosecutor was replaced in the middle of the preliminary inquiry.
Is not Fraser
She said that throughout the matter she had her “mind” on one of the policemen who was charged. The woman said sadly that now that he is free she has heard that he is going around boasting that he has killed a man and is back on the job.
“They deliberately bring in this third man to get this case thrown out and confuse the whole story,” the woman maintained. She said that up to two weeks ago, persons called and told her that Constable Fraser did not kill her son. She said that one caller told her the constable is insisting that he did not shoot Belgrave. She opined that Constable Fraser might have shot into the air and another rank may have discharged rounds behind the fleeing men.
“Fraser saying is not he,” she stressed.
Sulker added that while it looks like nothing is in their favour “I am still going to fight and cling to hope.” She called on the DPP to reopen the matter and for the police to uphold their mandate in ensuring that the shooter is brought to justice.
Belgrave, 21, of Middle Street, Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara, had been at the White Castle Fish Shop having a ‘pre-birthday’ drink with his friends, when a police patrol passed in pursuit of a car. Shots were then fired and Belgrave was hit. The police then took the injured man to the Georgetown Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Belgrave sustained one gunshot wound under his left arm in the region of his heart. The bullet damaged his heart, spleen and rib cage.
Open and shut case
A security source told Stabroek News that this case is only one of many instances of the police’s blatant disregard for upholding the law and ensuring justice. The source said the objective is to protect the men in blue no matter the cost. He said the only way it could be cleared up is if an independent ballistics test is done.
According to the source, on the surface, the case looks like an open and shut one but from what played out in court, it is clear that things were deliberately done to ensure that the matter was thrown out.
The source stated that once a bullet had been recovered it is not hard to match it to the gun that it came from, if that weapon was recovered. It was noted that had it come from Constable Fraser’s gun, he would have been charged from the inception. It was pointed out too that none of the three ranks could have known if the fatal bullet came from their gun especially if all of them had fired.
It was pointed out that it is impossible for two ranks to shoot the same person dead. “I don’t understand why two of them were charged in the first place…and charged jointly too. It is one bullet so a simple ballistics test will show which gun it came from and from the records they would know who had the gun,” the source said again pointing out that the case was nothing difficult and nothing for the “police to hurt their heads over.
“A man is dead and one of those three policemen is responsible. Justice must be served.” The source pointed out that a manslaughter charged in his opinion was unjustified given that ranks were shooting indiscriminately. It was pointed out too that the ranks should have taken into consideration that there were people standing nearby and living in the area where they were firing shots.
The source questioned why the ranks did not call for backup and have police vehicles coming from different points to intercept the car and its fleeing occupants. “Here is a young man, liming with friends, minding his own business, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting shot dead in the process. Then at the end of it all the police are freed on a supposed technicality. What justice is that?” the source asked.