Hearing of lawsuit against state, ex-cops over killing of Agricola youth begins

-witness recounts police operation, hearing explosion

Shaquille Grant

The mother of Shaquille Grant, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed by police in 2012, has sued the state for damages for what she says is the wrongful killing of her son.

Shonette Adams is contending in her suit that her son was wrongfully killed by police on September 11th, 2012, at Agricola, East Bank Demerara, in contravention of Article 138 of the constitution.

In her endorsement of claim, Adams, through her attorney, Nigel Hughes, is seeking exemplary damages, court costs, interest and any further or other order as the court may deem just to grant.

Her suit, dated December 28th, 2014, is jointly and severally against the defendants who are listed as the Attorney General and former police officers Terrence Wallace and Jamal Lewis.

Article 138 (1) states that “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of an offence under the law of Guyana of which he has been convicted.”

Article 138(2) further states, “Without prejudice to any liability for a contravention of any other law with respect to the use of force in such cases as are hereinafter mentioned, a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this article if he dies as the result of the use of force to such extent as is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of the case….” The exceptions are “for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property,” “in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained,” “for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny,” and “in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence.”

In testimony before High Court judge Gino Persaud, who is hearing the civil suit, Nicholas Timothy Eastman recounted hanging out in a yard at Third Street, Agricola with friends, including Grant, around 10 on the morning of the fatal shooting.

He said while there “we heard dove.” The witness said when he looked at the back of the yard, there were police officers wearing bulletproof jackets pointing a firearm at them.

He said an officer approached and told them to lie on the ground. Just then, he said, he looked up and saw two more officers coming from an eastern direction and they began to search everyone.

He said Grant was on the ground not too far from him, as was their friend, Romel Bollers. The witness said that after the lawmen conducted their search, they approached Bollers and a scuffle ensued. “They tried to pick him up and he started to resist. Thereafter, I heard a gunshot. I froze,” the witness said.

Eastman said that as Bollers then tried to get up, someone pushed him back down and he turned to look at Grant who was trying to get up and the police behind him kicked him back down.

“I then heard an explosion. I closed my eyes and I had a warm feeling in my stomach. I opened my eyes and I saw blood between myself and Shaquille,” the witness said, before adding, “Shaquille shouted out, I get knock, I get knock.”

According to Eastman, Grant tried to get up and the police went behind him, kicked him down and said, “You ain’t dead yet?” He said at that point the officer shot Grant again. “I know this because I heard another gunshot,” the young man said.

He said thereafter a number of other police officers converged on the scene and ordered everyone except Grant to brace against a wall. At that point, he said, Grant, who was still lying on the ground, began groaning.

He was bloodied at that point and a rank, identified as Warren Blue, then examined and enquired of him whether he was shot. He responded in the negative. He said Blue then went over to a still groaning Grant, and informed him that he had to await the van, which arrived two minutes later.

Eastman said that later that day he and two other friends, whom he identified as “Coolie Boy” and “Swanky,” who were also at the scene of the shooting, were taken into custody and a little after midnight they were removed from the lockup by police, who swabbed them around their hands and lower arms.

He said they were released days after.

When asked, Eastman told Hughes he was never charged, nor did he or any of his friends have weapons on them. He also denied pointing any objects at the officers or ever attacking any of the officers.

Further questioned, Eastman told Hughes that the police never announced why they were there.

The proceedings are to continue on November 22nd at 1.30pm.

On May 21st of 2015, Wallace was acquitted of Grant’s murder by a jury, following a trial.

The indictment against Wallace had stated that on September 11th, 2012, he fatally shot Grant at Caesar Street, Agricola, East Bank Demerara.

The prosecution’s case had been that Wallace had ordered Grant and his friends—Bollers, Eastman, Jamal Henry called, “Tuna,” and Troy Greenidge—to lie on the ground and while complying Bollers began removing his cell phone from his pocket. At once, there was a bang, which appeared to be a gunshot.

Then State Prosecutor Judith Gildharie-Mursalin had said in her opening address that Bollers was shot to the head, while Grant was heard saying, “Officer, officer, I get shoot.” She said that what appeared to be other gunshots rang out and following the shooting Bollers was injured and Grant was dead.

The court had heard from Gildharie-Mursalin that according to the police’s version, Bollers was attempting to run away from them and while doing so he had discharged a round at them from a weapon which he had. “The officers claimed that the action by Bollers was the catalyst for their shooting,” Gildharie-Mursalin had said.

In his testimony to the court, however, Bollers insisted that neither he nor any of his friends had any weapon when the police opened fire on them.

Lance Corporal Warren Blue and Special Constable Jamal Lewis were also charged with Grant’s murder but they were never arrested. Warrants had been issued for their arrest. Blue was subsequently shot and killed during a robbery on the East Coast of Demerara, while Lewis remains at large.

In his defence, Wallace, in unsworn testimony, had told the court that when he got to Agricola, he saw the young men under a shed in the yard and, with his firearm in hand, he shouted, “Freeze! Police!”

He said when he shouted, Bollers drew a gun from the waist of his pants and fired once in his direction as he attempted to run. Wallace added that he immediately returned fire by shooting one round in Bollers’ direction and the young man came to a halt and dropped his firearm next to his feet then knelt on the ground and placed his hands on his head.

Wallace had told the court that almost at that same time there were two gunshots from behind him. “I could not say which of the ranks discharged the fire,” he had said.

Wallace added further that as he heard those subsequent shots, he saw one of the youngsters, whom he later learnt to be Grant, fall to the ground. Later, he observed injuries to the teen’s face.

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