Thirteen killed by law enforcement officers from May 10 to date

Stabroek News
August 16, 2001

Tuesday's shooting to death by law enforcement officers of two men and a boy in Berbice has brought to 13 the number of persons killed by law enforcement officers between May and Tuesday.

Members of the Berbice Anti-Smuggling Squad (BASS) shot and killed Azad Bacchus, his 18-year-old son Shazad Bacchus and his 15-year-old nephew Fadil Ally in the wee hours of Tuesday morning in the Scottsburg area in Berbice. The police say they were shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire, a version hotly disputed by relatives who say they were taken from the point they were apprehended to another location and killed. At least one of the bodies is said to be devoid of bullet wounds and shows signs of a severe beating.

In almost all of the cases since May, the accounts given by law enforcement officers of the incidents have varied significantly from that of eyewitnesses and others. As a result the police - and now BASS - have come in for strong criticism and close scrutiny. The police have been accused of killing several of the men even though they were not returning fire and had surrendered. Responding to the concerns, President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that coroner's inquests would be held into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

Just last month on July 26, three men were shot and killed by members of the Target Special Squad.

The men, Steve Grant and John Bruce of Laing Avenue and 29-year-old Antoine Adisena Houston were shot and killed at the junction of Mandela Avenue and Industrial Estate road,

A police release on that incident had stated that a patrol in Industrial Site at about 0530 hrs saw a vehicle with its licence plates partially obscured by cardboard. When the ranks attempted to stop the vehicle three men jumped out and fired shots at the policemen who were forced to take evasive action. During the alleged confrontation, the vehicle in which the men were travelling fled the scene. The ranks reportedly found a Beretta sub-machine gun with one magazine containing 32 rounds of live ammunition, a Browning 9 mm pistol with seven rounds of ammunition in the magazine and a .32 Taurus revolver with three rounds. However, in contrast, eyewitnesses had reported that the three men were shot in cold blood; one when he was backed up against a stall and the other two as they were lying on their stomachs on the ground. The driver of the car the men were in had reportedly fled the scene.

On May 10, 31-year-old, Junior Stanton called 'Drakes' or 'Swank' of Garnett Street, Albouystown was fatally shot by the police at the Aishalton Guest House in High Street.

A police release had stated that "acting on information received, the police went to the boarding house where the deceased, Stanton was hiding. He was wanted in connection with a robbery under arms committed by a gang on guests at a wedding house in Georgetown." The release further said: "During the ensuing confrontation, he was mortally wounded."

Witnesses had claimed that the man was fatally shot by the police as soon as he opened the door to his room.

On May 14, 21-year-old Devon Gonsalves called 'Buckman' or 'Lil Buck' of Cooper Street, Albouystown was shot by members of the Target Special Force while he was hiding in a yard in King Edward Street, Albouystown. He was said to be member of a criminal gang and was wanted by the police. The official police release said that he was wanted by the police for at least two murders including the shooting to death of the 29-year-old fish vendor, David Kissondai who was killed a few days before the shooting. Witnesses had stated that the young man was shot while he was hiding in an outdoor toilet after being alerted to the approaching party of policemen.

One week later, Ian Warde of Linden was shot and killed by the police after, according to a police release, he had exchanged gunfire with the police from the safety of a house he was holed up in, injuring two policemen in the process. However, he was subsequently fatally shot and a .32 automatic pistol and live rounds and spent shells were recovered by the police.

Minutes before that Warde had walked up to another Linden resident, Ralph Benn and fatally shot him.

Another man, Mohamed Shamshudeen Haniff was shot and killed by the police on June 5, while he was reportedly part of a crowd which attacked the Albion Police Station. His family had claimed that he was on his way to collect an iron gate for his home when he was gunned down.

On June 9, Sean Hope called 'Seabu', 23, of Last Street Agricola and Collin Cumberbatch called 'Sadist' of 31 Gordon Street were shot and killed by the police. They were reportedly wanted in connection with a series of armed robberies. One of them was wanted in connection with an incident involving the shooting to death of Constable Eloye Nathaniel Adrige on the same date at the Sparendaam Police Station. A police release said that Hope was killed when a party of police was conducting searches for members of a gang involved in robberies, while Cumberbatch was mortally wounded during a confrontation with the police who were in pursuit of him in relation to a series of armed robberies committed on persons and hire cars.

And on June 21, 28-year-old Calvin Le Younge of 19 West Ruimveldt and Farm Village, ECD was fatally shot at Anna Regina when he reportedly opened fire on the police after he was called upon to halt. (Samantha Alleyne)