Witness a no-show for police interview on seawall killings

Devon Lyte, the labourer who said he witnessed the recent police killings of three alleged robbery suspects along the Kitty seawall, Georgetown, did not show up for an agreed interview with a detective yesterday and his lawyer said he needed 24 hours.

Only a day earlier, Lyte, in the company of attorney Nigel Hughes, had submitted a sworn statement in which he said he witnessed the fatal encounter while working on the roof of Guyana Softball Association building on Carifesta Avenue.

In a press release yesterday afternoon, the Guyana Police Force confirmed that the interview did not take place as arranged.

“Mr. Lyte’s attorney-at-Law when contacted in relation to another matter informed the detective that his client needed another 24 hrs as his client has some issues to sort out,” the release noted.

Lyte, in his statement, indicated that Dextroy Cordis, Kwame Assanah and Errol Adams were unlawfully killed as opposed to being fatally shot after firing at lawmen, as the Guyana Police Force has claimed.

Lyte on Monday told reporters that he was on the roof of the building on Carifesta Avenue just before midday on March 15th when he heard a “banging” sound coming from the seawall.

“When I looked up, I saw that the police had blocked off the road at the top of Camp Street. I then heard shots being fired and I saw there were two cars driving along the seawall road. A black car was in front and it was being followed by a silver car,” he said.

Based on his account, the black car was occupied by Cordis, Assanah and Adams, while the silver car was an unmarked police vehicle. “…The car from behind start opening fire; I don’t know if it’s at the [black] car or up in the air  or what may be the case,” Lyte said. “The black vehicle, which was in front, stopped, then I saw one person come out of the black car and stood up at the front driver door,” he added.

The driver of the black car was Assanah.

“I then saw about one person come out of the silver car. He walked towards the black car. I then saw the person from the silver car [the police] start to beat the person who had come out from the driver’s side [Assanah] and was lying on the ground,” he said, while noting that the person was beaten while still on the ground.

Twenty minutes later, Lyte said that he heard rapid gunfire. At the time he heard the rapid gunfire, there was one person standing over the same person who was lying on the ground.

He said he did not witness any exchange of gunfire and was unable to say if the police were fired upon. There were two bullet holes in the police vehicle and a gun was reportedly recovered from one of the dead men. “Well, I won’t be able to say upon that part because yuh can’t see the distance away who exchange fire with the police. I won’t be able to say if the guy shoot at the police or the police shoot at them own vehicle or what,” Lyte said.

Lyte’s account of what took place on the day in question differs significantly from that of the police, who said Cordis, 46, called “Dottie” of Lot 4 Grove Public Road, East Bank Demerara, Assanah, a former soldier, of Bux-ton, East Coast Demerara, and Adams, 57, called ‘Dynamite,’ of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and also Buxton, were fatally shot after they opened fire on ranks.

The men, this newspaper was told, were about to execute a robbery on a customer who had withdrawn $9.2 million from the bank.

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. They reportedly later trailed a bank customer to the seawall location and 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 said Adams was fatally shot, while his accomplice sped away on the bike.

However, while the police had said that there were three vehicles present at the scene, Lyte said there was only the black vehicle and the silver vehicle. He was adamant that there was no motorcycle or fourth suspect in the picture.

Hughes has said that the information related by Lyte “seems to suggest” that the three men were executed.

Hours after his disclosure, Lyte, in the company of Hughes, had visited the Criminal Investigation Department, Eve Leary, to submit a copy of his statement to the police and the agreement was made to have him returned yesterday.

From the inception, there have been calls for the killings to be independently investigated.

However, Commission-er of Police (ag) David Ramnarine last Monday told reporters that the fatal 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.

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