The police are yet to be directed to reinstitute any new charges over the killing of Dameon Belgrave, the bystander who was killed after he was struck by a bullet fired by a policeman during a pursuit.
There is no evidence to suggest that plans are afoot to reopen the investigation, let alone charge the rank who fired the fatal bullet. Two policemen were charged with killing Belgrave and though evidence was presented at the preliminary inquiry (PI) into the charge against them that suggested the bullet which killed him came from the firearm of a third policeman, that rank was not arrested after the matter was thrown out by the court.
Contacted recently for an update on the case Crime Chief Leslie James said that “the police have not received any instructions from the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] when to reinstitute any new charges.”
It has been three months since policemen Sheldon Williams and Errol Williams walked out of the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court free men. Why the police haven’t taken steps
to ensure the matter is reopened and the ‘right’ person is charged and placed before the court is still unclear.
It is also unclear when, if at all, the police will receive instructions to institute new charges. As has been done previously with indictable matters, particularly murders, the DPP would ask for the depositions from the case, following which a course of action would be provided.
Belgrave, 21, of Middle Street, Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara, had been at the White Castle Fish Shop having a drink with his friends when a police patrol passed in pursuit of a car. Shots were then fired by the police pursuing the fleeing vehicle 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.
Following a prolonged police investigation during which the file went back and forth between the police and the DPP, two of the three ranks who fired were charged with manslaughter. The charge came two months after Belgrave had been killed.
‘Nobody gets justice’
A still aggrieved Donna Sulker, when contacted last week, asked if she will ever get justice. “Nobody gets justice with the Guyana Police Force. Why would I be any different?” she said.
Sulker said that to date she has heard nothing from the police or the DPP in relation to what is happening with the matter.
Clearly frustrated over the situation, she stated that now she is unsure if “anything will ever happen.”
In June while pleading for the case to be reopened, the woman had expressed apprehension about whether indeed a third policeman who had fired the fatal bullet. She believes that his introduction during the preliminary inquiry was a ploy to get the case thrown out of court.
She had recalled that when the ranks were charged, she asked the prosecutor why the third policeman was not also placed before the court. On that occasion she was told that the rank’s gun had not been used in the shooting and as a result no charge was instituted against him.
Based on what the woman said, when the Police Ballistics Expert Detective Sergeant Eon Jackson read the ballistics report, something different was related to the court. According to Sulker, it was Jackson who implicated the third rank, identified as Constable Fraser. Jackson, 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.
Adding to all the confusion, Constable Fraser was the first witness in the case to testify at the inquiry.
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 would come of the matter.
The police, in the days after the men were freed, had said that they were being made the scapegoats when the police officer that prosecuted the matter operates out of the DPP chambers and not any police station.
According to the police, they acted on the legal advice given to them by the DPP and further that the statement of the Police Ballistics Expert was in the file prior to legal advice being given to the police on the charges to be brought against the ranks.
The woman insists that Constable Fraser, on the basis of what she heard, did not shoot her son. She said that he may have discharged a round but it was not the fatal one. Questions have been raised as to how this could be when according to what was said during the PI the wrong rank had been charged.