An inquest has been ordered into the death of James Nelson whose bruised body was discovered in a cell at the Brickdam Police Station lock-ups, last October.
The file had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in December last, after the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) concluded that the evidence was not clear as to who inflicted the injuries. The PCA in a report which had been submitted along with the case file recommended that an inquest be held into the incident.
It is unclear if the inquest has begun.
Nelson, 47, called ‘Jimmy,’ of Stanleytown, West Bank Demerara, was found dead in a cell at the lock-ups on October 31.
Acting Commissioner Henry Greene had told this newspaper that the policeman, who was held one week after the man’s death, was released from custody pending the outcome of the investigation which the police had launched. Several officers were also questioned.
Nelson’s son, who was the first to see the body, had told relatives that the man’s face and hands were swollen. In addition, there were marks on his hand and a gaping wound to the back of the head.
Police initially said that according to the information they received, Nelson had been banging his head on the wall of the lock-ups. However, relatives disputed that the man could have done this and pointed out that that did not account for the wounds he had.
According to the police Nelson was arrested a day earlier after he entered the compound of the Ministry of Home Affairs and began behaving disorderly, allegedly over money owed to him by a contractor who had sent him off the job. He was spoken to by a Special Constabulary officer on duty but continued to behave in a disorderly manner and had to be restrained. The rank subsequently arrested him and handed him over to a police patrol that had been summoned. He was placed in a cell with 20 others but was discovered dead the following morning with a bruise over the right eye and a small cut over the left eye.
A post-mortem examination conducted by government pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh gave the cause of death as haemorrhage and shock due to multiple injuries. No information was given as to where Nelson sustained the injuries.
However his relatives, including his wife, remain convinced that the man was a victim of police brutality which resulted in a ruptured spleen among other serious injuries.