A 24-year-old Bare Root, East Coast Demerara man was fatally shot by the police in the compound of the Vigilance Police Station yesterday morning, when he reportedly attempted to escape in a Guyana Police Force vehicle after being taken into custody for threatening to kill his wife.
Teon Maxwell, a father of one, who sustained a single gunshot wound, was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The shooting occurred around 11.40 am.
Questions have since been raised about the actions of police ranks during the apprehension, escort and detention of Maxwell, who managed to injure two ranks using weapons he had in his possession during his escape attempt.
Guyana Police Force spokesman Jairam Ramlakhan, in a statement yesterday, said a thorough investigation has since been launched. The police have also obtained several statements, he added.
According to the statement, ranks of a mobile patrol had responded to a report made by Maxwell’s common-law wife, Belinda Thomas, of threats.
“On arrival at the home, Maxwell, who was armed with a cutlass, was promptly disarmed, arrested and taken to the Vigilance Police Station,” the statement said.
While he was being processed at the enquiries office of the station, the police said Maxwell reportedly whipped out a knife and attacked two subordinate officers, who tried to subdue him.
The ranks attacked by Maxwell, a Sergeant and a Corporal, sustained minor injuries about their bodies and were taken to a hospital, where they were being treated up to yesterday afternoon.
They were both listed as being stable.
The still armed Maxwell, the statement noted, swiftly entered the driver’s seat of the force vehicle that was used to transport him to the station. The engine was still running. He then drove off in an attempt to escape but crashed into another force vehicle in the compound.
As a result, the statement said, police discharged several rounds, one of which fatally struck Maxwell.
When Stabroek News arrived at the scene, the station was cordoned with crime scene tape.
A number of Maxwell’s relatives, including his sister, had gathered in front of the police station awaiting the return of his mother, Shellon Moses December, who was speaking with detectives.
Divisional Commander Calvin Brutus was also present at the scene.
The force pick-up, PWW 5435, which Maxwell reportedly used in his bid to escape, was also seen at the gate. It bore damages from the crash and bullet holes were also visible on the driver’s side door.
‘More than they could handle’
Brutus related to reporters that around 9 pm on Friday, Thomas lodged a report with the police of Maxwell threatening to kill her with a cutlass and a hammer.
He said the police were dispatched to the area but Maxwell managed to escape.
However, yesterday, a new report of threats were made against Maxwell, Brutus said.
The police again went to the area in order to arrest him, and met Maxwell bearing a cutlass and hammer in his hand.
He explained that the patrol that responded initially could not have addressed the situation. As a result, it called for assistance and another patrol responded. “And it was more than what they could handle. Also, some other persons went. So three patrols responded, they managed to subdue him, took away the cutlass, took away the hammer, “Brutus added.
Maxwell was then escorted to the Vigilance Police Station.
“And just inside the enquiries office, but not behind the counter, he (Maxwell) resisted, he pull out a knife that he allegedly had in his waist because apparently the search wasn’t done correctly and as a result, two police were injured in the fracas that followed,” Brutus added.
“The vehicle keys was left in the ignition and the vehicle was left just outside the enquiries office. The young man (Maxwell) got in the driver seat and drove off the vehicle. However, he crashed into another of our vehicles that was parked closer to the gate,” he further explained.
When asked about the process used to apprehend and detain Maxwell and whether any of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were breached, Brutus said all aspects of the matter will be looked into.
He noted that during the investigation, the fact that Maxwell was acting disorderly throughout the process also has to be taken into context.
“Well, we will look at all the different areas to be investigated moving on from today. We don’t know the full extent as yet. Based on what was narrated, his (Maxwell) behaviour from yesterday (Friday)— and there were previous reports as well, not only yesterday—indicated that he was violent and on today’s date, from the place of where he was arrested to the station, throughout he was disorderly, so those things need to be taken into context as well,” Brutus explained.
Meanwhile, December, the dead man’s mother, related to Sunday Stabroek that it was not the first instance in which her son behaved in such a manner.
December said Maxwell would often times misbehave.
She related that last Saturday, Maxwell allegedly assulted Thomas and she encouraged the woman to report the matter to the police. “Well last week Saturday, he (Maxwell) beat up this girl (Thomas). She come at the station and she mek a report,” December said.
On Friday night, she added, Maxwell allegedly chased Thomas with a hammer and she again reported the matter to the police, who asked her to return yesterday.
“The police tell she (Thomas) come back today (yesterday). She come back today. When the police tell she come back today right, he deh in my yard, sit down pun me back step, sharpening he knife. So I called Vigilance. Ah seh ‘right now me son deh on the back step, sharpening a knife, y’all come now,” December added.
She said the police did not respond immediately.
“So she (Thomas), my daughter-in-law, come back the station and bring the police. When the police come now, my son get…two hammer; one in he right side waist, one in he [left] side waist, two knife in he hand and he cutlass, running the police all ova Bare Root…from the middle street to by where me live…running the police all ova. Then he seh, he ain’t gah money if he gah go home back. I give him a thousand dollars. He jump in the police vehicle with all he weapon. Not the cutlass. He left the cutlass under somebody house. The two hammer and the two knife. He come at the station with it,” December further explained.
She said when she arrived at the police station, she saw Maxwell seated in the driver’s seat of the police vehicle in a pool of blood. “When I come at the station, I don’t know wah happen but all I know I now coming at the station and I reach he in the police vehicle driver seat, in a pool ah blood,” December added.