A coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Alberto Grant and Paul Bascom, who were fatally shot by police, is expected to commence in the New Year.
Magistrate Alex Moore, who is hearing the matter, has set January 15, 2016 for reports and fixtures for the commencement of the hearing before the jury at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court 10.
When the matter was called yesterday, Magistrate Moore informed the court that all the witnesses had not yet been summoned. He added that while some have been notified, there were no returns on those summons.
The magistrate said that the summonses section of the Brickdam Police Station had been experiencing some difficulties contacting witnesses.
In the circumstances, he has set January 15 at 9 am for reports and fixtures as to when the inquest will commence.
About 16 witnesses are expected to testify in the matter.
A Coroner’s Inquest is conducted by a magistrate who acts as coroner, and heard by a jury with a minimum of three persons and no more than five persons. It is an inquiry into an unnatural death.
In the inquest, the coroner reviews statements of the witnesses which are also heard by the jury, who at the end of the inquest and deliberations, determines who, if anyone, is criminally liable for the death.
Among the determinations of the inquest are: when the killing occurred, where, what caused the death and then the jury’s decision of who, if anyone, is criminally liable.
If from the inquest anyone is found to be criminally liable, the file is then sent within seven days to the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice.
After that, there will be a determination as to charges, for a subsequent commencement of a preliminary inquiry.
On December 9, 2013, former police commissioner Leroy Brumell had announced an investigation into the shooting deaths of the two men by police, after conflicting reports had surfaced. The two were said to have been suspected robbers.
Brumell had confirmed that Bascom, 26, and Grant, 28, were killed in the yard of a businessman who was their intended target, which had contradicted an earlier police statement that said the men were fatally shot during their approach.
The Police’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Criminal Investigation Department had been ordered to conduct investigations into the shooting.
The police had said that the duo had planned to carry out a robbery on a gold miner. Their relatives have however continually refuted those claims as they received conflicting reports about the way the men met their demise.
In its official statement on the shooting, the police force had said, “Acting on information received that a robbery had been planned to be carried out on a gold miner, the police staked out an area at Golden Grove, EBD, during Saturday December 7, 2013.” According to the statement, around 22:30 hrs the police challenged two men, who were approaching on foot, and one of them pulled out a handgun and opened fire on the ranks. The police said they returned fire and fatally wounded both men.
It was further reported that a .38 snub-nose revolver with two live rounds and two spent shells, along with one 9mm round and two 7.62 x 39mm rounds were recovered by the police.
The men were later identified as Bascom of Diamond Housing Scheme and Grant, called Alberto Mustapha, of Meadow Brook Gardens.
Ravi Dookram, whose Lot 756 Section C Block Y Diamond Housing Scheme house the men were allegedly planning to rob, had said that he was not at home at the time of the shooting and did not know what the men were doing in his yard. “I never saw them before. I don’t know them. I don’t know what they were doing in the yard with guns. I was coming out of the interior when everything happened,” Dookram had said.
An occupant of the home had told Stabroek News that the police informed the members of the household that they were in danger and as a result they immediately left the area. “Ten minutes after the police came and told us that something was about to happen and that we were in danger, we left and then the shootout happened,” a resident had explained.
Bascom’s mother had advanced that the gunshot wound that her son sustained to his face was inconsistent with the men being “challenged” as the police had said. Both he and Grant were shot in the face and their families said the wounds suggested they were shot at close range.
Grant’s father, when contacted, had said that based on the reports he received, he was not too clear how his son was killed. He, however, maintained that his son was not a “bandit”. According to the man, the businessman knew his son and they would talk occasionally. The man said that his son was a Muslim and was a talented man who worked hard for his money. The man also questioned why his son and Bascom would enter the businessman’s property as it was heavily grilled and guarded by pit bulls.