Police probing death of woman bystander
Relatives allege recklessness
By Oscar P. Clarke
November 7, 2002
The Guyana Police Force yesterday expressed regret at what is said was the "unfortunate demise" of 54-year-old Dorothy Williams during a Tuesday night operation on D'Urban Street and said an investigation of the death is underway.
In a release yesterday, the police expressed condolences to relatives and friends of Williams.
According to the release, the police are "taking all relevant steps by way of an investigation to properly ascertain the circumstances of her death."
They have however not accepted any responsibility for her death.
Relatives of Williams are claiming that her life could have been saved if police had allowed them to take her to a hospital as she was still alive when they arrived on the scene. Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday at their Lot 413 East Ruimveldt home, the Williams household was adamant that the woman had been killed as a result of the recklessness of the police. Relatives believe officers fired indiscriminately into the yard, which is normally frequented by several persons, without taking the necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties.
Further they say that if they had immediately taken her to hospital the chances of saving her life might have been increased.
Williams had gone to the Wortmanville flats to visit a friend. As she was awaiting transportation close to the D'Urban Street roadway, police confronted a group of men that caught their attention in a Grey Toyota Marino HA 9509.
What happened next is unclear but it is the relatives' understanding that their mother was either in the process of leaving the yard or in conversation with her friend when the shooting started.
They said Williams ran for cover to a neighbouring apartment but was denied entry by its occupants.
A video cassette which was in the woman's possession at the time of her fatal wounding, bore evidence of the shooting episode with a bullet lodged in it.
Her friend is said to have handed it over to police thus denying the family any material evidence.
The mother of nine it was said, had been shot twice, once to the right side and on the left shoulder. According to relatives, Williams had a small gap in the region of her back and a huge hole in the region of her breast.
The police release yesterday said "a wanted man who opened fire on a police patrol was fatally shot about 9:30 p.m. last night on Durban Street, while a female, identified as Dorothy Williams, 52 years old of East Ruimveldt, who was in the area at the time, received gunshot wounds during the shooting incident and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital."
Williams' relatives have however disputed this fact saying that the woman was left lying at the entrance to the flats for close to three hours as police observed the scene. The woman's body was later removed by mortuary attendants from the Lyken Funeral Home at 10:30 p.m. and taken straight to the parlour.
Recapping events leading to the shootings, police said: "The man identified as Adrian Greene and two others, were occupants of a motorcar, whom the police patrol observed acting in a suspicious manner on D'Urban Street.
"On seeing the police, Greene exited the car and began firing rounds at the police who adopted a tactical manoeuvre and returned fire. When the exchange of gunfire ended, Greene was discovered with gunshot wounds. The other two occupants of the motorcar were arrested and are in police custody."
When Stabroek News arrived on the scene on Tuesday night police had cordoned off the area around the Wortmanville flats and had taken up strategic locations.
However shortly afterwards a group recognised as the Target Special Squad departed and other ranks were left milling around.
The police tow truck then arrived and took away the vehicle the suspects were said to have been in, and personnel from the forensics department arrived shortly afterwards. They immediately began examining Williams' body lying on a concrete strip leading to the flats.
It was approximately an hour and a half after the Target Special Squad personnel had returned that the body said to be that of Greene was brought out from somewhere within the yard.
This newspaper recalled hearing what appeared to be that of a single gunshot, followed shortly after with the seemingly lifeless body being brought out and loaded into a waiting vehicle. From appearances someone tipped off police that the suspect might have been hiding under the flats resulting in their flushing him out.
According to the police release, "One .32 Taurus pistol with six live rounds and one Taurus Millennium pistol with one spent shell stuck in the breach, was found in Greene's possession."
Greene was also said to have had in his possession at the time $74,000 which was lodged at the hospital.
Greene who is said to be from Agricola, East Bank Demerara, reportedly sustained five bullet wounds.