Police yesterday invaded a Norton Street home and allegedly brutalized its occupants, after informing them that they were in search of a quantity of narcotics.
According to Inika Softleigh of Lot E Norton Street, Lodge, at around 4pm yesterday she was upstairs with her three-year-old daughter and 8-year-old niece preparing for a cake decorating class that she normally takes at the Adult Education Association, when four armed police ranks entered the premises through an inside stairway, where a family friend was asleep. The visibly upset woman, who was half dressed at the time, said that she heard the commotion on the stairs and went to see what was causing it, and was met by the police awakening the 16-year-old lad. She said she asked the ranks why they were “harassing de child” and they responded that they had come to conduct a narcotics search. The woman said one of the ranks, who was dressed in a pair of black pants and a white t-shirt, produced a piece of a paper package which he said contained some ‘ganja’ that had been sold to him yesterday morning by the lad. The men then proceeded to apprehend the lad, whom Softleigh said “was complying with them but they started to cuss up and behave stupid and de boy run away”. As a result, the woman said that the ranks began to fire indiscriminately, despite the fact that there were children in the yard. Some residents also say that the ranks had shot at another lad in the property next door to Softleigh’s residence. Luckily, no one was injured.
She said the ranks also threatened her, after which they left in pursuit of the lad. This newspaper was told that on their way, the ranks also apprehended another young man, whom they had questioned on the whereabouts of the alleged suspect, and who had told them he had no idea where the lad went. He was later released in the vicinity of Chapel Street, Lodge.
According to Softleigh, the boy had at the time been suffering from a chest condition since morning and at the time he was awaiting her sister to take him to the hospital. She also related that the plain clothes rank, who was the first one in the yard, began harassing the 16-year-old before presenting some form of identity to him, her or the other occupants of the home.
When Stabroek News visited the scene, four children who live in the yard, ages three, five, eight and nine – two of whom were asleep in a vehicle under the house at the time – were still traumatized by the whole scenario, and one even commented, “if they did shoot me mother and she de dead, me wonta get back a mommy”.
Softleigh said also that a taxi driver nearby told her that he too had been assaulted on the same day by the same set of ranks, who stripped his car and beat him up.
One neighbour, who had observed what had transpired, told this newspaper that a total of five police vans surrounded the area. Up to the time that Stabroek News left the scene, police were still circling the area, driving fear into residents who were uncertain what they would’ve done next.