Independent probe of seawall fatal shootings needed, GHRA head says

An independent investigation should be launched into the police’s recent fatal shooting of three robbery suspects along the Kingston seawall, President of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) Mike McCormack says.

“The problem is the PCA [Police Complaints Authority] and more so the OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility] are not sufficiently independent so ordinary citizens can be confident,” McCormack told Stabroek News yesterday.

He added that the police force’s account of what transpired on March 15th needs to be verified. “The police version that the shooting was justified needs to be supported by independent verification… citizens need an independent investigation,” McCormack added.

According to McCormack, the GHRAhas an interest in the case but it has yet to interview the families of the dead men.

The three men, Dextroy Cordis, 46, called “Dottie” of Lot 4 Grove Public Road, East Bank Demerara; Kwame Assanah, a former soldier, of Buxton, East Coast Demerara, and Errol Adams, 57, called ‘Dynamite,’ of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and also Buxton, were fatally shot north of the GNS sports ground after police said they opened fire on ranks.

The families of the men have called for a full investigation of their deaths.

The Guyana Police Force, in a statement, has said both Cordis and Assanah were identified to them as “two suspicious looking characters” spotted in a car in the vicinity of Scotiabank around 10.30 am last Thursday, and who later trailed a bank customer to the seawall location. Police followed them.

“At this time the two suspicious looking characters in the motorcar, drove up to the customer’s vehicle and exited, one brandishing a small arm at the customer,” the statement said.

“At the same time the police anti-crime patrol, which by now was in close proximity called out to the suspicious looking characters but the one who was armed discharged several rounds at the police who returned fire,” it added

As a result, Cordis and Assanah were fatally shot. Cordis appeared to have been the only one armed and questions have been raised about why Assanah was not subdued by non-lethal force.

The statement went on to say that seconds after the exchange of fire, two men were spotted on a CG motorbike near the dead men’s vehicle and one of them opened fired on the police, who again returned fire. As a result, police say Adams was fatally shot, while his accomplice sped away on the bike.

Commissioner of Police (ag) David Ramnarine on Monday told reporters that the shooting was justified.

“The specific details can always be debated but at the end of the day the evidence is there that they were part of a criminal enterprise. So, whatever specific actions they might have played on the day in question…you cannot escape the point… it is inescapable, the fact is they were part and parcel of an arrangement to commit a criminal act with some serious consequences and I am happy that has been aborted,” Ramnarine had said.

The acting Top Cop had also warned that failure to swiftly apprehend the lone escaped suspect could result in an act of retribution.

Autopsies have revealed that all three of the men died from multiple gunshot injuries sustained and the families of Assanah and Cordis have said both men were shot in the back.

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