Ramjattan says believes police version in seawall shootings

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan says he believes Acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine’s version of the shooting to death of three suspected bandits on the Kingston Seawall in March.

“I believe his version, and what transpired is a truthful version,” he said.

“I am going to support my policemen until such time as they are proven to do something wrong. Just like how all suspects and criminals have the presumption of innocence on their side, why are we behaving like this with our police, by saying that they executed and they murdered? The presumption of innocence is across the board”, he declared.

Speaking with the media yesterday at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel, Pro-vidence, Ramjattan said, he was going to ensure there will be a complete investigation. Shot dead by the police were Kwame Assanah, Dextroy Cordis and Errol Adams.  Since the shooting a number of questions have been raised about the police version.

The police are awaiting three statements from attorney at law Nigel Hughes, who, he said, called him indicating that the witnesses were fearful.

The police, he said, would like to complete their file on the case and send it to the Director of Public Prosecutions in keeping with usual procedures.

“Knowing what happens…”, he said, “a coroner’s inquest would be ordered.”

Asked what led him to be on the police’s side, Ramjattan said their reliability and credibility, and the fact that some questions are to be asked of the man on the roof. This was a reference to Devon Lyte who had said that he was on the roof of the  Guyana Softball Association building on Carifesta Avenue at the time of the shootings and had given a statement that differed from the police’s version. The Police have since said that Lyte was not on the roof at the time of the shootings as he claimed to be.

Asked how he could throw his support behind the police without the coroner’s inquest being held, he said, “Simple because that is what you normally do. When there is an investigation as to a murder, what you expect me to do? You question the police investigation? You do not.”

Any responsible government in the majority of cases, he said, will attach some reliability and credibility on police investigations. Unless there is something so badly done, the police will be questioned immediately.

Asked if all the men posed threats to the police using one gun, Ramjattan said, “We were told they were firing at the policemen and they had to shoot back. That is what caused the police to shoot. Probably as many times as possible.”

Asked if they were all shooting at the police, he said, “It would appear so.”

He added that he was not clear on all the circumstances and that will be revealed at the coroner’s inquest. “I don’t want us to start demoralizing our policemen.”

The Guyana Police Force, in a statement on the day of the shootings, had said that both Cordis and Assanah were identified to them as “two suspicious looking characters” who were spotted in a car in the vicinity of Scotiabank on Robb Street. A police source has said that the three men were about to execute a robbery on a customer who had withdrawn $9.2 million from the bank.

They reportedly later trailed the 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 police statement had 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 added 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 fire on the police, who again returned fire. As a result, police said Adams was fatally shot, while his accomplice sped away on the bike.

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