Osafie Johnson, the 17-year-old who was shot in the back and foot by police during last week’s search for fugitive Tyrone ‘Cobra’ Rowe, was discharged from hospital and arrested yesterday, angering relatives who said he was very weak as he had a bullet lodged near his lungs.
Johnson was admitted to the Georgetown Hospital’s High Dependency Unit under police guard after he was shot during an operation to capture Rowe in East Ruimveldt. From his hospital bed, he denied any wrongdoing as well as knowing the wanted man. He charged that the same rank who shot him had arrested him just days before. Police continued to search the community yesterday for the wanted man.
Johnson, dressed only in short pants, was taken by the police to the Brickdam Police Station yesterday, where tempers flared. This newspaper was reliably informed that investigators wanted to question the teen about the Cobra and may have also been attempting to institute gun charges. The teen, dressed in short blue striped pants and with a huge bandage on his left side, was being aided to the lock ups by several ranks. While hospitalised, a tube was placed in the bandaged area to drain fluids from his body. His lungs were apparently grazed by the bullet and there were reports of internal bleeding.
Within minutes of being placed in the cell, Johnson could be heard shouting that he could not breathe properly. He was receiving oxygen while in hospital. Up to press time last evening, he was still in police custody. “Look now he ain’t getting fuh breathe man, he ain’t gettin‘ fuh breathe,” a relative said as she burst into tears.
Earlier, a relative who declined to be named said the ranks went to the hospital around midday and after Johnson was discharged he was detained. He was subsequently taken to the station by the police. The relative said it was the nurse who removed the tube from Johnson’s side, after a doctor said that he had been discharged although another on duty was not in favour of the release. The relative added that ranks at the Brickdam Police Station refused to divulge any information to them. “They just put he in the lock up,” she said.
Meanwhile, attorney Adrian Thompson said while his client did not appear well, ranks told him that it was the hospital that discharged him. The lawyer said he was told that the police wanted to take a statement from his client and he indicated that he wanted to be present when this was done.
Thompson said Johnson maintained that he had no gun when he was shot by the police. Relatives stressed that no one in the area saw Johnson firing a gun or with anything in his hand. They added that they along with community members have been assisting the police with the investigation.
Relatives said Johnson was spitting blood and was very weak. Thompson said he would be better off in the hospital. He noted that he could not escape due to his condition.
Johnson’s relatives expressed concern, saying the bullet was still lodged in a dangerous position and that there is internal bleeding. They added that he cannot get the same care in the lock ups that he would in hospital. They feared that his condition would worsen and that the police would falsely charge him.
Police continued the search for the wanted man at Laing Avenue, where a house at Lot 162 Laing Avenue was searched twice during a 24-hour period. The home is occupied by Tiffany Greenidge, 24, her three month old son and her mother.
The upset woman told Stabroek News yesterday that no males reside at the home and she has never met ‘Cobra’ and does not know what he looks like.
Greenidge recalled that on Thursday night, two van loads of policemen came into the area and after driving around ended up at her home. She said when the ranks arrived, the door to the bottom flat house was open and she was breast feeding her child. According to her, the ranks courteously explained that they were from the Brickdam Station and that that they were looking for ‘Cobra’ and wanted to search her home.
She said after inviting them in, the ranks searched and after coming up empty handed they left. Greenidge told Stabroek News that around 1:30 pm yesterday the same ranks returned but were very hostile. “Me, me baby and me motha been on de bed and all ah hear is someone sayin‘ open de f***ing door,” the woman related, adding that when she looked out she saw a policeman. She said that when she opened the door there was a gun pointed straight at her and she put her hands in the air. “‘Ah don’t want to hear nothing. Whey wanted man Cobra deh,’” she recalled a rank saying, before they allegedly barged into the apartment and ransacked it. “I don’t know who is Cobra,” the upset woman repeatedly said, adding that following the search the ranks told her that it was someone from the area who had directed them to her house.
Police have visited the home several times before. On one occasion, the ranks claimed that Greenidge was related to a man wanted for murder. On another occasion, she was accused of selling cocaine from her house.