Nigel Hughes not surprised at government’s silence on police killing of three suspected bandits.

Nigel Hughes not surprised at government’s silence on police killing of three suspected bandits.

 

FLASH BACK: Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes on the campaign trail

Prominent Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes, who campaigned for the APNU+AFC coalition to come to power, indicated that he was not surprised that government was silent about the police gunning down of three suspected bank-related robbers.

“At the end of the day, governments  tend to want to protect their State agents so whenever they get into office, despite whatever protestations are before they get into office, they then start to protect the people who are there to protect them in office and carry out the law so I don’t believe the conduct of this government is any different from its predecessor,” he said.

Hughes’ comments were made at a news briefing that was shared by a man who claimed that he witnessed the incident that occurred on the Georgetown Seawall on Monday, March 15, 2018. Those killed are 46-year old Dextroy “Dutty” Cordis  of Grove, East Bank Demerara , Kwame Assanah, age unknown, of Buxton, East Coast Demerara and 57-year old Errol “Dynamite” Adams of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and Buxton, East Coast Demerara.

Hughes, a former General Secretary of the Alliance For Change, has been a consistent advocate and campaigner against extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations.

The Attorney said the issue of the apparent “unjustified killing” of unarmed men who did not resist or refuse to comply with lawful orders or direction was the key issue instead of whether he supported the coalition.

“This is an execution and it doesn’t matter who the President is or which party is in power, the citizen at the end of the day needs to be protected from arbitrary actions by agents of the State,” he said.

A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change, either separately, jointly or as a government, has not issued any statement on the police shooting of the men, in contrast to when they were very vocal against extra-judicial killings while they were in opposition.

Post mortem reports show that the men were shot multiple times. Police Commissioner, David Ramnarine has justified the action by a specially trained unit of the Guyana Police Force, saying that the evidence shows that they were part of a criminal enterprise and were part an arrangement to commit a serious crime.

A man, who said he was an eyewitness of the police killing of three men at the Georgetown Seawall road while he was working on the rooftop of the Georgetown Softball Cricket Club pavillion, has since filed a statement with the Guyana Police Force.  Police said Devon Lyte agreed to return Tuesday to be interviewed by a Senior Detective in the presence of Attorney-at-Law Hughes.

From Lyte’s account, a silver car was travelling behind the black car in which the men were travelling. He said when the black car stopped and the driver exited, someone emerged from the silver car and assaulted the driver for several minutes.

He said he then heard rapid gunfire. “At the time when I heard the rapid gunfire, there was one person standing over the same person who was lying on the ground,” he said.

The Attorney-at-Law added that he was advised that there was no pillion rider and no one escaped on a motorcycle in stark contrast to the account by the Guyana Police Force.e car.

The Police Commissioner has said that lawmen trailed the car in which the men were travelling after it was observed that the suspects had been following a car which was boarded by a customer from Scotiabank, Robb Street, Georgetown. They all ended up at the Georgetown Seawall where the incident occurred.

The Police Commissioner has said that the person, who exited the bank, was a genuine customer and not a police decoy. At the same time, he has stated categorically that the interception of the men was deliberately done at the Seawall instead of Robb Street. ““I want to tell the citizens of this country, if the Guyana Police Force had not taken that course of action a few days ago and that would have happened there, a lot of collateral damage would have happened on Robb Street based on the information that we received and it is good that it ended up at the seawall at a more desolate location,” he said.

The Attorney-at-Law hinted that private criminal action would be taken after sufficient evidence has been gathered and if the State does not file criminal proceedings.

Original Post

Eyewitness contradicts police’s account of seawall killings

-says cops beat suspect before shooting started.

March 27 2018

Source

Attorney Nigel Hughes (second, from right) flanked by Devon Lyte (at right) and the sisters of Dextroy Cordis during the press conference yesterday.

The recent police killing of three  robbery suspects along the Kingston seawall, in Georgetown, on March 15th, is being labelled as unlawful after an explosive statement yesterday by a man who says he witnessed ranks beating one of the men and did not see any shootout as has been claimed.

Devon Lyte, a labourer who said he witnessed the events from the roof of a Carifesta Avenue building, has since submitted a sworn statement to the police, who said he will be interviewed today.

From the inception, there have been calls for the killings to be independently investigated, when the police claimed that the men trailed a bank customer to the location and opened fire on them after they interrupted an attack.

Lyte, in the company of attorney Nigel Hughes and the sisters of Dextroy Cordis—who was killed along with Kwame Assanah and Errol Adams—told a news conference yesterday that he and two other men were working on the roof of the Guyana Softball Association building on Carifesta Avenue just before midday on the day in question when he heard a “banging” sound coming from the seawall.

“When I looked up, I saw that the police had blocked off the road at the top of Camp Street. I then heard shots being fired and I saw there were two cars driving along the seawall road. A black car was in front and it was being followed by a silver car,” he said.

The Guyana Softball Association building, where Lyte said he was positioned on the roof when the police confronted the accused robbery suspects.

Based on his account, the black car was occupied by Cordis, Assanah and Adams, while the silver car was an unmarked police vehicle. “…The car from behind start opening fire; I don’t know if it’s at the [black] car or up in the air  or what may be the case,” Lyte said. “The black vehicle, which was in front, stopped, then I saw one person come out of the black car and stood up at the front driver door,” he added.

The driver of the black car was Assanah.

“I then saw about one person come out of the silver car. He walked towards the black car. I then saw the person from the silver car [the police] start to beat the person who had come out from the driver’s side [Assanah] and was lying on the ground,” he said, while noting that the person was beaten while still on the ground.

Twenty minutes later, Lyte said that he heard rapid gunfire. At the time he heard the rapid gunfire, there was one person standing over the same person who was lying on the ground.

About ten to fifteen minutes after the shooting, he said policemen from Camp Road started to run up the seawall road. They were accompanied by a photographer, he said. An ambulance also arrived.

“When I looked on the seawall, I saw cops out there. The body was lying on the ground, the persons standing up over the person, and I look away about fifteen minutes, look back, camera people show up pun the scene, police show up on the scene, lock down everything and after then it was that,” Lyte related.

He said he did not witness any exchange of gunfire and was unable to say if the police were fired upon. There were two bullet holes in the police vehicle and a gun was reportedly recovered from one of the dead men. “Well, I won’t be able to say upon that part because yuh can’t see the distance away who exchange fire with the police. I won’t be able to say if the guy shoot at the police or the police shoot at them own vehicle or what,” Lyte said.

No motorcycle

Lyte’s account of what took place on the day in question differed significantly from that of the police, who said Cordis, 46, called “Dottie” of Lot 4 Grove Public Road, East Bank Demerara, Assanah, a former soldier, of Bux-ton, East Coast Demerara, and Adams, 57, called ‘Dynamite,’ of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and also Buxton, were fatally shot north of the GNS sports ground after they opened fire on ranks.

The men, this newspaper was told, were about to execute a robbery on a customer who had withdrawn $9.2 million from the bank.

The Guyana Police Force, in a statement, has said both Cordis and Assanah were identified to them as “two suspicious looking characters” spotted in a car in the vicinity of Scotiabank. They reportedly later trailed a bank customer to the seawall location and police followed them.

“At this time the two suspicious looking characters in the motorcar, drove up to the customer’s vehicle and exited, one brandishing a small arm at the customer,” the statement said.

“At the same time the police anti-crime patrol, which by now was in close proximity called out to the suspicious looking characters but the one who was armed discharged several rounds at the police who returned fire,” it added

As a result, Cordis and Assanah were fatally shot. Cordis appeared to have been the only one armed and questions have been raised about why Assanah was not subdued by non-lethal force.

The statement went on to say that seconds after the exchange of fire, two men were spotted on a CG motorbike near the dead men’s vehicle and one of them opened fired on the police, who again returned fire. As a result, police said Adams was fatally shot, while his accomplice sped away on the bike.

However, while the police had said that there were three vehicles present at the scene, Lyte said there was only the black vehicle and the silver vehicle. He was adamant that there was no motorcycle or fourth suspect in the picture. “There was no motorcycle [that] disappeared with any mysterious pillion rider and the events as set out seem to suggest that this was not the way in which the state related those events and even the Crime Chief expressed some disquiet with the original police version,” Hughes said.

Hours after his disclosure, Lyte, in the company of Hughes, visited the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), at Eve Leary, to submit a copy of his statement to the police.

He was asked to return today, when he will be interviewed by a senior detective.

Public Relations Officer (ag) of the Guyana Police Force Shivpersaud Bacchus in a statement yesterday afternoon confirmed that around 4.15 pm Lyte, in the company of Hughes, submitted the statement, which was issued earlier to Crime Chief Paul Williams.

“It was discussed and agreed for Lyte to return tomorrow [today] to be interview by a Senior Detective in the presence of his Attorney,” the statement added.

‘An execution’

Hughes, who told the press conference that he was retained on Sunday evening, said the information related by Lyte “seems to suggest” that the three men were executed.

“His [Lyte] vantage point was second to none. He was up on the roof, one car is being followed by another, one man was put on the ground so he could not have been a threat. So, at the time when the gunfire erupted the one man who was clearly on the ground… he didn’t know where the other two were but we ended up with three dead man,” he noted.

Hughes said he has spoken to the relatives of Assanah, who told him that he [Assanah] was shot ten times. The other two, Cordis and Adams, he said, were shot about six to seven times. “…One had six, so I am not sure where the gunfire took place,” he said.

Lyte’s account, he observed, raised the issue of the driver of the black car (Assanah) being physically assaulted by the police while he was laying on the ground. “As a matter of fact, the driver of the black car was on the ground being physically assaulted for about ten to fifteen minutes before the gunfire erupted and the three occupants of the car were dead,” Hughes said.

What is most disturbing, he added, is that it was not just a group of police officers who appeared to be involved. “Because if the seawall road was blocked off prior to the eruption of the gunfire and prior to the car being stopped and one of the occupants exiting the car, then it seems it required a lot more coordination than otherwise,” he stated.

“He [Lyte] heard banging, looked left, saw the road was blocked off by the police. Those two vehicles were driving east along the seawall road, gunfire erupted, sounding as if they were firing in the air for them to stop. The car in front stopped, the driver got out of the car, the driver of the silver car got out, walked to him, put him on the ground—he was actually assaulting him on the ground—and then after that there was gunfire and at the time the gunfire erupted he was physically standing over the guy [Assanah], Hughes reiterated.

The attorney said that a private firm will pursue whether the autopsies of the men indicated that there were other injuries about their bodies.

Loraine Barrington, one of Cordis’ sisters, told reporters that her family also believes that Cordis was executed and they are calling for justice. “We are here today because we need justice. It is our belief the story that was told by the police is one that is not true, so we are here… it is my desire that the policemen be brought to justice that murdered my brother,” the woman said.

“It is my belief that all three men, they were murdered and probably there may be untold [stories] that have not come to light as yet and may be probably that will ensure that these policemen are charged for murder,” she said.

Hughes said that the rule of law is there so that persons can be arrested if they are acting suspiciously or if they have committed a breach of the law, rather than being left in the hands of somebody who has got a gun.

“The point is the state is not entitled to execute people at random, whatever their reputation may be. And this is not a battle of trying to defend the good or other name of any of the deceased, it is the circumstances in which they met their deaths and if it appears the way it took place, in a manner in which Mr Lyte is saying, it’s an execution,” he explained.

Other statements

Hughes disclosed that he has since secured other statements but he declined to disclose what other information he has in his possession presently. He, however, said he is working to ensure that there is sufficient evidence in the case in the event that there is a reluctance on the part of the state to act and it is necessary to take the appropriate action.

Hughes also declined to state whether he had spoken to the two other men who were on the roof with Lyte but he noted that he is actively involved in speaking with the contractor responsible for the building.  “I don’t have at the moment the capacity to provide them with the protection that they need but let me say, we know how they are,” he said.

President of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) Mike McCormack had told this newspaper last week that an independent investigation should be launched into the fatal shootings.

“The problem is the PCA [Police Complaints Authority] and more so the OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility] are not sufficiently independent so ordinary citizens can be confident,” McCormack said.

He had added that the police force’s account of what transpired on March 15th needs to be verified. “The police version that the shooting was justified needs to be supported by independent verification… citizens need an independent investigation,” McCormack added.

Despite several unanswered questions about the shooting, Commissioner of Police (ag) David Ramnarine last Monday told reporters that it was justified. “The specific details can always be debated but at the end of the day the evidence is there that they were part of a criminal enterprise. So, whatever specific actions they might have played on the day in question…you cannot escape the point… it is inescapable, the fact is they were part and parcel of an arrangement to commit a criminal act with some serious consequences and I am happy that has been aborted,” Ramnarine had said.

He had also warned that failure to swiftly apprehend the lone escaped suspect could result in an act of retribution.

“At the end of the day, governments  tend to want to protect their State agents so whenever they get into office, despite whatever protestations are before they get into office, they then start to protect the people who are there to protect them in office and carry out the law so I don’t believe the conduct of this government is any different from its predecessor,” he said.

Where are the PPP doomsday dudes? This is the change the people voted for? Maybe they could not differentiate change from an exchange.

Investigate the police and bring in the witnesses. Have a public inquiry with cameras.

Witness a no-show for police interview on seawall killings

Devon Lyte, the labourer who said he witnessed the recent police killings of three alleged robbery suspects along the Kitty seawall, Georgetown, did not show up for an agreed interview with a detective yesterday and his lawyer said he needed 24 hours.

Only a day earlier, Lyte, in the company of attorney Nigel Hughes, had submitted a sworn statement in which he said he witnessed the fatal encounter while working on the roof of Guyana Softball Association building on Carifesta Avenue.

In a press release yesterday afternoon, the Guyana Police Force confirmed that the interview did not take place as arranged…..

 

Or

 
kp posted:

Witness lied.

Seawall `Eyewitness’ was not on roof – acting Top Cop

Devon Lyte, the labourer who said he witnessed the March 15 shooting of the three  robbery suspects along the Kingston seawall while working on a Carifesta Avenue building was never on the roof as he claimed.

This statement was made this afternoon during a press conference hosted by Commissioner of Police (ag) David Ramnarine.

 

Ramnarine told reporters that during the “active investigation” several statements have been obtained including from the contractor, sub-contractor and security supervisor of Lyte’s worksite which indicate that Lyte was not present at the location on the day of the incident.

Moreover, he said Lyte has not turned up for work since last Sunday.

Devon Lyte at the press conference where he claimed to be a witness.

According to the police, Dextroy Cordis, 46, called “Dottie” of Lot 4 Grove Public Road, East Bank Demerara, Kwame Assanah, a former soldier, of Buxton, East Coast Demerara, and Errol Adams, 57, called ‘Dynamite,’ of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and also Buxton, were fatally shot north of the GNS sports ground after they opened fire on ranks.

Questions have been raised about the police account and an investigation is underway.

 

 

 

Witness to seawall killings wasn’t on roof of building, Top Cop says

-lawyer urges independent probe due to lack of trust in police.

March 30 2018

Source

Acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine yesterday said evidence disproves the claim by labourer Devon Lyte that he witnessed the police’s fatal shooting of three robbery suspects along the Kingston seawall from the rooftop of a Carifesta Avenue building, while the man’s lawyer called for a full, independent investigation due to the lack of confidence in the police force by him and other witnesses.

“Our investigators are in possession of three statements or in fact several statements but three of which are very, very instructive to the extent that Mr Devon Lyte was never ever, I repeat, never ever on the roof of the building that he claimed he was on…,” Ramnarine yesterday afternoon told a press conference, where he noted that the “active investigation” of the killings has seen several statements obtained, including from the contractor, sub-contractor and security supervisor at Lyte’s worksite.

 

“In fact, I have to let you know and let the world know that on yesterday’s date [Wednesday], the learned attorney [Nigel Hughes] went to that location where his client seemingly was on the roof on the day in question and he enquired as to where specifically his client was and on being told that his client is a labourer, not a skilled worker, worked on the ground floor, that’s on the ground with what you call a mixer, he left,” Ramnarine added.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon yesterday told a post-Cabinet media briefing that a Coroner’s Inquest would be launched into the killings, in accordance with the law.

Lyte, in the company of Hughes, on Monday submitted a sworn statement, in which he said he witnessed the fatal March 15th encounter while working on the roof of Guyana Softball Association building on Carifesta Avenue. His statement suggested that the police unlawfully killed Dextroy Cordis, 46, called “Dottie” of Grove Public Road, East Bank Demerara, Kwame Assanah, a former soldier, of Buxton, East Coast Demerara, and Errol Adams, 57, called ‘Dynamite,’ of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and also Buxton, who police say opened fire on them.

Ramnarine yesterday also said that he has also been informed by investigators that Lyte’s co-workers are disappointed at his claims. “…They did say so—very disappointed, when they learnt and they saw Devon Lyte on television talking this story,” he added, while noting that Lyte had not turned up for work since Sunday.

Ramnarine noted that the case is being investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility and that the probe was moving at a rapid pace. “Unfortunately, we seem to be on the back foot because Mr Devon Lyte is a no show,” he said.

“It is painful that you can have someone turn up at your office, give what purports to be a story that has national implications that impugns the good work and reputation of a national institution and its officials, rush to publicise—it’s all over the world—and then after the fact, you turn up at the location to find that it cannot be substantiated,” he added.

Ramnarine also used the occasion to encourage anyone who may have seen what transpired at the seawall on the day in question to come forward. “…The force is more open now, there is nothing to be afraid of,” he said.

‘Little confidence’

But in a statement issued last evening, Hughes, who is also the lawyer for Cordis’ family, said Ramnarine’s comments only validated the apprehension of both his client and other witnesses about the police force.

“Needless to say the absence of confidence which several eyewitness expressed to me and other independent investigators about the ability of the Guyana Police Force to protect their safety when their own officers are the subject of the allegation of murder has been confirmed by the statements of the Commission-er,” he said, while adding that it was “unfortunate” that Ramnarine would publicly challenge the statement of a witness that had not been interviewed as yet by the force.

Hughes confirmed that on Monday afternoon his client met with Crime Chief Paul Williams at Eve Leary in order to give a statement.

He said the senior officer who Williams contacted was not available at the time and it was agreed that Lyte would return on Tuesday at lunchtime.

However, he said in the intervening period Lyte contacted him and expressed the collective fear of his family about his safety and protection.

He further said he spoke with Lyte’s grandmother and sister, both of whom were adamant that he would not be attending any police station as they were afraid for the safety of him and their family.

Hughes also confirmed that he went to the Guyana Softball Association’s ground on Wednesday morning, where a person who described himself as a supervisor confirmed Lyte’s presence at the location on March 15th but said that he was not on the roof at the time of the shooting.

The attorney said he subsequently learnt from another source that the contractor was interviewed by the police prior to his arrival and was fearful of losing his contract with the government to repair the building.

Hughes added that he personally interviewed two more eyewitnesses who had a closer vantage point of the shooting and like Lyte they were concerned about their safety.

“These statements have disclosed a frightening chronology of events which have cast not only grave doubts on the version of events provided by the Commissioner of Police but include a recount of one of the police officers turning his guns on a group of persons who were playing football at the Guyana National Service ground when they were observed looking on at the events,” he said, in reference to a group of Brazilian pastors who were at the ground. He released redacted parts of their statements, which indicated that several persons, including the pastors, were in proximity at the time of the shooting.

“Both of these witnesses have expressed little confidence in the ability of the Guyana Police force to protect them and in the light of the public statements and treatment of Mr. Lyte by the Commissioner of Police who commented with[out] the benefit of an interview with him,” he added, while noting that the fears of all the witnesses are now fully justified.

Hughes yesterday also wrote Ramnarine conveying Lyte’s fears and seeking to find out whether the police force is willing to provide protection to witnesses.

 

He noted too in his statement that he had conveyed the fears of the witnesses to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan and Crime Chief Williams as well.

“In the light of the considerable fear and apprehension felt by eyewitnesses who have provided me with statements of the events of the 15th March 2018 the family of Mr. Cordis is of the opinion that it is beyond the capacity of the Guyana Police Force to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the death of Dextroy Cordis,” he said. “The family of Mr. Cordis is now of the firm belief that the Guyana Police Force cannot be entrusted to conduct a fair investigation into the deaths of these young men and consequently wish to call for an full independent investigation into the events of the 15th March 2018,” he added.

‘Witness protection’

Ramnarine yesterday said he was aware that Hughes conveyed Lyte’s concerns over his safety to Williams.

“But Devon Lyte didn’t have witness protection when he went on television on Monday neither did he need witness protection when he came with an attorney at law Monday afternoon at CID headquarters. How funny. How funny indeed,” he remarked.

Questions have been raised from the inception about the police’s account of the circumstances leading to the killing of the three men.

The Guyana Police Force, in a statement, had said that both Cordis and Assanah were identified to them as “two suspicious looking characters” who were spotted in a car in the vicinity of Scotiabank on Robb Street.

A police source has said that the three men were about to execute a robbery on a customer who had withdrawn $9.2 million from the bank.

They reportedly later trailed the bank customer to the seawall location and police followed them.

“At this time the two suspicious looking characters in the motorcar, drove up to the customer’s vehicle and exited, one brandishing a small arm at the customer,” the police statement had said.

“At the same time the police anti-crime patrol, which by now was in close proximity called out to the suspicious looking characters but the one who was armed discharged several rounds at the police who returned fire,” it added.

As a result, Cordis and Assanah were fatally shot. Cordis appeared to have been the only one armed and questions have been raised about why Assanah was not subdued by non-lethal force.

The statement added that seconds after the exchange of fire, two men were spotted on a CG motorbike near the dead men’s vehicle and one of them opened fired on the police, who again returned fire. As a result, police said Adams was fatally shot, while his accomplice sped away on the bike.

Lyte, who spoke to reporters on Monday, had said he was on the roof of the building just before midday on March 15th when he heard a “banging” sound coming from the seawall.

“When I looked up, I saw that the police had blocked off the road at the top of Camp Road. I then heard shots being fired and I saw there were two cars driving along the seawall road. A black car was in front and it was being followed by a silver car,” he said.

Based on his account, the black car was occupied by Cordis, Assanah and Adams, while the silver car was an unmarked police vehicle. “…The car from behind start opening fire; I don’t know if it’s at the [black] car or up in the air  or what may be the case,” Lyte said. “The black vehicle, which was in front, stopped, then I saw one person come out of the black car and stood up at the front driver door,” he added.

The driver of the black car was Assanah.

“I then saw about one person come out of the silver car. He walked towards the black car. I then saw the person from the silver car [the police] start to beat the person who had come out from the driver’s side [Assanah] and was lying on the ground,” he said, while noting that the person was beaten while still on the ground.

Twenty minutes later, Lyte said, he heard rapid gunfire. At the time he heard the rapid gunfire, there was one person standing over the same person who was lying on the ground.

He said he did not witness any exchange of gunfire and was unable to say if the police were fired upon. There were two bullet holes in the police vehicle and a gun was reportedly recovered from one of the dead men. “Well, I won’t be able to say upon that part because yuh can’t see the distance away who exchange fire with the police. I won’t be able to say if the guy shoot at the police or the police shoot at them own vehicle or what,” Lyte said.

However, while the police had said that there were three vehicles present at the scene, Lyte said there was only the black vehicle and the silver vehicle. He was adamant that there was no motorcycle or fourth suspect in the picture.

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