Police deny involvement in brothers' shooting

Guyana Chronicle
August 4, 2003

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THE GUYANA POLICE FORCE has categorically denied that a policeman was involved in the killing of Lennox and Ron Baker on Friday morning.

The mother of the two claimed again yesterday that the police were involved.
But a police statement issued yesterday not only refuted that claim; it also questioned Stabroek News' motives for implying that the police shot the Baker brothers and called on their mother, Mrs. Edna Baker, to back her allegations with evidence.

Lennox, a 45-year-old father of four, and Ron, 34, who fathered two children, were shot dead around 1.45 a.m. on Emancipation Day, after stopping briefly at Vergenoegen, West Coast Demerara, for a passenger to disembark.

Reports say that after dropping off the passenger opposite a bus shed, an unidentified man in a white car indicated that he had passengers for the bus.

It is alleged that two men came out of the car, approached the bus and fired indiscriminately, smashing the window at the conductor's side and forcing passengers to dive for cover.

The killers then fled the scene, leaving in their wake a slightly wounded passenger who was subsequently treated and discharged.

According to reports, Lennox attempted to drive after the shooting, but he succumbed a few minutes later. Ron died on the way to West Demerara Regional Hospital at Best.

News of the shooting flashed on television and in the print media. But in a follow-up Sunday Stabroek headlined its front-page lead, 'Police involved in death of two brothers, says family.'

That, the police replied, is not true.

In a statement directed to the Editor and copied to the Chronicle, the police said:

"With great consternation, the Administration of the Guyana Police Force, considers it paramount to express its shock and chagrin pertaining to your front page story.

"Mr. Editor, the message that your headline and subsequent news item seeks to churn out is very disturbing particularly emanating at a time when the Guyana Police Force is certainly just beginning to enjoy a change of circumstance, a breath of fresh air, and by extension less stress and tension in society.

"Mr. Editor, where is the evidence that the Police were involved in that tragedy?

"If the family of the unfortunate brothers have such damning evidence, as you seem to have concluded, say, is this the way to go? Is your newspaper the medium for investigating and pronouncing on the matter?

"To insinuate such dangerous thought (s) without being able to substantiate, is tantamount to the highest degree of recklessness and irresponsibility.

"Clearly your newspaper leaves no doubt that the two brothers may have been targeted by policemen and you subtly qualified 'the targeting' by the use of the words, '... which relatives allege may have been motivated by recent disputes.'

"Mr. Editor, the Force wishes to make it pellucidly clear that no policemen were involved in that shooting. If all citizens who were involved in disputes with police officers and vice versa were to adopt such courses, where would the force be headed? It is preposterous to assume that the policemen may be driven to such a state of madness as to want to seek revenge.

"Mr. Editor, the reply 'No comment' does not mean that the Police spokesman was acknowledging that Policemen might have been involved and therefore he wished to say nothing. He was just being cautious.

"The Force has noted that some media houses have developed their own trial courts without regards to the courts of competent jurisdiction in this country. The Police spokesman indicated to the reporter that the matter was under investigation and that should be accepted.

"Mr. Editor, at paragraphs 12 and 13, you stated, 'the mother said that at the scene ... she encountered the Officer who had pulled the gun on Lennox three weeks ago.'

"Now, what are we to understand here? Mr. Editor, just because a particular policeman with whom a person may have had a dispute is seen at the scene of a crime, in those circumstances, it is enough to conclude, is it reasonable to deduce that he may be involved in that crime?

"That crime occurred in his station district and therefore his presence at the scene of the crime was justified and warranted. It was his area of responsibility, station, district, and division wise. In fact, Mr. Editor, any policemen can stop and be present at a scene of a crime whether or not he is on or off duty and whether or not it is his station district.

"Mr. Editor, the relatives can say what they want; they can conjure up all the reasons and beliefs, in their moment (s) of sadness. They can look for all the possibilities as to why? But we wish to make it known, that to peddle such spurious allegations against members of the Force does not do iota of good for one's credibility. It is good to run with a thought or an idea. Many persons including relatives, quite often, are very loquacious at scenes of crime and to the media but where it matters most they are dead silent.

"Yes, the shooting is still under investigation and anyone who has information as to whether or not the police are involved, may contact the relevant authorities. You may also wish to advise them as to the course of action to take, seeing that your story gives the clear impression that it may be unwise for those wishing to assist, to approach the Police authorities.

"Finally, Mr. Editor, wrong means wrong, contrary to law and not according to the opinion of one or a number of persons.

"The Guyana Police Force is calling upon you and the family to produce the evidence of the alleged involvement of members of the Force, failing which we expect nothing but an unequivocal apology."

The grieving mother told the Guyana Chronicle yesterday that the death of her two sons brings back painful memories of Charles, another son who also died under peculiar circumstances.

Mrs. Baker said Charles Baker was shot on October 02, 1995 at Parika Police Station following a parking problem on the Parika Stelling.

He died 11 days later.

Police said investigations are continuing into Friday's tragedy.

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