A likely story
Stabroek News
January 11, 2002

Judging by the number of police press releases on the subject, it should be one of the great mysteries of Guyana as to why it is so many otherwise hale, hearty and sensible young men insist on attacking armed members of the force with cutlasses. If police accounts of these confrontations are to be believed, the most astonishing thing about the situation is that although the officers involved invariably kill their attackers, this fact has not yet registered with the average young Guyanese male. Is it a defect in our education system, one wonders, that young men don't know what the statistical odds are if they confront members of the force with only a cutlass, when the latter are sporting semi-automatics, revolvers or some other kind of firearm?Take this latest incident involving Mr Brian King. Now in the first place, according to a police press release on Saturday, he ran away from one of Georgetown's finest with a cutlass in his waist. One might have considered that in itself a great impediment to freedom of movement during an escape bid, but then perhaps he underestimated the fitness of the policeman concerned. If he did, that was certainly a mistake, because according to the official statement, after being pursued by the rank he was "caught up" with at Smyth and Evans streets.

While the rank may have caught up with Mr King at Smyth and Evans streets, he certainly could not have cornered him there, since that location offers possibilities for an escape route. One must presume, therefore, that Mr King was out of condition, while the policeman had been jogging or spending his spare time in the gym. Either way, what the police say Mr King did next was nothing short of pure bravado. He "fired" - the word comes from the police - "several chops at the policeman."

It wasn't as if Mr King could have had any doubt about the identity of his pursuer, since the release makes it clear that he was "armed and in uniform." Perhaps he underestimated the determination of the officer, since the statement does not indicate that the latter called on Mr King to halt, or fired a round in the air to stop him in his tracks. As it is, we have to picture Mr King wielding his cutlass like a Samurai sword, while the officer of the law weaves and bobs with great dexerity to avoid the weapon, at the same time struggling to get his revolver out of its holster.

Even at that stage - before the policeman had actually drawn his gun but was making moves indicating he was clearly going to - it seems that Mr King did not elect to throw down his cutlass and throw up his hands, or even to take to his heels again. No, in an act of pure unmitigated self-destruction he stood there brandishing his weapon (or firing several chops) waiting to be shot. And that is not all. While he did so he was forgetful enough to leave his mouth wide open.

The police had absolutely no suggestion to make as to why he should have assumed this strange mien, and as far as can be determined it is something to date which has failed to excite their curiosity. In any event, all they had to say on the subject was that when the officer concerned "discharged one round in King's direction," it "unfortunately" struck him in his mouth.

The police do not seem to recognize that press releases dealing with killings involving their officers which do not sit comfortably with the known facts, will not be taken seriously by the public. Citizens are not so naive as to accept any account that they are given by the authorities, especially if, as in this instance, that account contains patently preposterous assertions or in its unspoken assumptions requires the suspension of the readers' rational faculties.

The critical question in this instance is how did Mr King get shot in the mouth? Not through his teeth or his lips, please note, but through his open mouth. And if the man's wife says that the policeman manhandled Mr King out of their house, and that before he shot him outside he said that when he was finished with him, he (King) would not be able to go on C N Sharma and talk any more, just who will the public believe? (Mr King had been on Mr Sharma's TV programme complaining of police harassment.) Honestly, Mr Commissioner, just which version of this story sounds more credible to you?