Eyewitness accounts require scrutiny

To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
August 9, 2001

MY RECENT letter was prompted by concern more than displeasure that the Stabroek News newspaper had launched an attack against the Police without waiting for the full facts to be known in the fatal shooting of the three men in the city.

As stated before, the eyewitness accounts quoted in the editorial require some scrutiny and the editor would have done better to await at least, the results of the post mortem examinations before committing pen to paper.

I have since read two accounts of post mortem, again relying on accounts in the Stabroek News and despite what the doctor may have told the relatives, this does not seem to agree with accounts given by witnesses.

Antoine Houston is reported to have received seven bullet wounds from an officer who was facing him and who would have fired at almost point blank range after taking two steps back.

John Bruce was reportedly lying face down on the ground where he was shot by an officer in the back at very close range.

Assuming that the Special Target Squad were armed with automatic rifles, which they normally are under these circumstances, Houston would have received massive frontal wounds in the chest and stomach and his body would have been thrown backwards; Bruce would have received multiple wounds in the back.

However, if these men had indeed been on the move as stated by the Police, the varying wounds could be explained by the fact that their bodies turned as they fell, even to the point that Houston realising he had been hit, put up a hand in a protective gesture with a bullet going through his hand and one through his temple.

I agree with one writer that a coroner's inquest should and must be held, as only in this way can the public get closer to the truth.

However, as the writer must also be aware there are several instances where officers of the law involved in sensitive security operations give evidence without being named.

Should the coroner find that the Police acted in an unlawful manner, the case can be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute criminal proceedings.

If the witnesses quoted by the Stabroek News are quite sure of what they saw, they are duty-bound to come forward at the inquest and must not abandon the rule of law for the expediency of self-preservation.