The mother of Marlon Fredericks, the mentally-challenged vendor who was fatally shot by a member of the city constabulary on Sunday, yesterday called for justice for her son, while saying that an autopsy found that he died of a gunshot wound to his chest.
Fredericks, 33, of Tiger Bay, was shot after he allegedly attempted to flee the custody of the constabulary outpost at Bourda and his death has once more raised concerns about the use of lethal force in capturing persons. The Lance Corporal who was responsible for the shooting remained in custody up to yesterday.
Although the Guyana Police Force said the post-mortem examination performed by Government Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh gave the cause of death as “complication to lower back due to gunshot wound,” Claudette Fredericks said the report in her possession states that her son died of a gunshot wound to his chest, with no mention of an exit wound. The discrepancies, she noted, will be clarified today.
The police, in a statement on the shooting, had said Fredericks, who was in custody at the outpost for assaulting a peace officer and simple larceny, allegedly forced his way outside of the lockup when it was opened to let out another prisoner to use the toilet.
It was then, the statement added, that a struggle reportedly ensued between the victim and the Lance Corporal, who tried to restrain him. In the process, Fredericks ran out of the outpost and was fatally shot once in the lower back by the Lance Corporal, who was armed with a service pistol.
Claudette Fredericks told Stabroek News that on Sunday, she received a call to visit her son at the constabulary outpost and arrived there around 1 in the company of her sister and nephew.
She stated that when her son saw her, he began to run and tried to jump the counter to get to where they were. However, he was unable to do and so instead crawled under the counter and ran out of the outpost, despite her asking him not to run.
Claudette stated that she heard a shot and thought that it was fired as a warning because Marlon turned around. However, she then watched as he fell to the ground.
She later learnt from her relatives, who were with her, that Marlon stumbled to the ground shortly after he ran out of the outpost and it was then that he was shot. Subsequent to being shot, Marlon got up and turned around but ended up falling to the ground once more.
Claudette, when asked if she heard the rank shouting for her son to halt, stated that she didn’t hear any such warning.
Marlon, she said, lay on the ground for more than an hour before an ambulance showed up, only to pronounce him dead.
Claudette stated that after pronouncing him dead, the medical personnel indicated that they would not be able to remove her son’s body.
This mother described her son as a person who treated others how they treated him. She stated that Marlon had developed a fear of the police since he had been forced to go to rehab and whenever he saw a police officer he would run. “He tried to make an honest living despite his fight with drugs,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, during a press conference yesterday, said that the city council is awaiting a report from the police force on the shooting. Town Clerk Royston King, who was asked about the behaviour of the rank, described him as a “very quiet and composed person, who has never had any history of any rogue… behaviour.” He added that they were surprised when they heard it was that particular individual who had been responsible for the shooting.
A day before the fatal shooting, Fredericks had been taken into custody on an allegation of robbery.
The man, who was said to have a history of mental illness, allegedly attempted to disarm a city constable in a bid to escape arrest in the vicinity of Robb and King streets.
Public-spirited citizens assisted in the restraining of Fredericks and both he and the constable were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where both were treated. The constable was sent away after treatment, while Fredericks was detained for observation. He was apparently released later into the custody of constables at the Bourda outpost.
A video surfaced on Facebook on Saturday with the now deceased man and the member of the city constabulary in a scuffle on Robb Street, after Fredericks allegedly attempted to disarm the rank. The video showed the subdued Fredericks being kicked several times in his head by a man identified as a policeman, who was in the vicinity when the incident unfolded and assisted his colleague in the arrest of Fredericks. Claudette Fredericks said she believes the some form of charges should be brought against the officer who kicked her son in his head on Saturday.