-Police VS Human Rights Commission
-Who’s Saying The Truth?
Reports from the Liberia National Police (LNP) and Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) have submerged the public, including eye-witnesses, in the state of mystification over whether or not a wound sustained by a lady recently in the Barnesville Community following a police intervention was as a result of discharge of live bullet. Some officers of the LNP were dispatched into the community recently to intervene in a situation that generated tension between a group of motorcyclists and owner of a commercial truck that reportedly killed a fellow motorcyclist.
During the incident, the police moved in to perhaps, to calm the situation and ultimately, several people got wounded, including a lady who was rushed to a nearby medical center operated by the Trinity Healing Temple, a faith-based group along the Barnersville Road.
Although eyewitnesses confirmed that the police used live bullets and several people were wounded in the process, the police on the other hand, have rejected allegation.
However, while the public was still finding it difficult to trust the police’s side of the story, a reported “sponsored medical report” from the THT has been released by the police.
The medical report vindicated the police that the wound on the lady was not a “bullet wound,” although eyewitnesses account still disagrees with the “sponsored police medical report.”
Deputy Police Inspector General, Robert Budysaid, a medical report emanating from the Trinity Healing Temple (THT) Health Center has vindicated the LNP in the injury of a woman during the recent violent protest in Barnersville.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday at the LNP Headquarters in Monrovia, Col. Budy, however, expressed regret over the injury of Helena Nimely.
The medical report suggests that Nimely “sustained laceration on the right side of her neck about 14 centimeters below her ear, and that no residue or particle was observed on the cut.”
This report is contrary to media and ‘eyewitness’ accounts that accused police officers of “indiscriminately” shooting live bullets at a crowd and eventually wounding the woman in an effort to quell a mob action occasioned by a fatal motor accident that left two persons dead in the Kebbah Community in Barersville Township.
On 27 June, an angry crowd reportedly tried to burn a truck that collided with a commercial motorcycle, leaving dead two of the three persons who were riding on it.
Col. Budy emphasized that “the riot police who responded to the incident did not use lethal force, but rather fired teargas to disperse the rioters.”
“It is impossible for a bullet or projectile to have caused laceration, leaving no trace of any foreign (object), contrary to reports that she was wounded by a bullet fired by police officers,” said Col. Budy.
He added that it was likely that people mistook the sound of the teargas for that of gunfire.
The report further indicates that whatever object that inflicted wounds on Nimely’s neck started from the back of her neck.
Notwithstanding, the victim herself was recorded as telling the doctors that she was shot by a policeman. “while I was standing along the road after hearing heavy gun sound.”
The medical report further shows that the patient was “fully conscious while responding to medical care” and is expected to be discharged soon.
However, contrary to the police’s account, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) has confirmed that indeed, live firearm was discharged during the riot in the Barnesville Estate Community.
When the riot had subsided on that 27th day of June, it became clear that one lady had been life-threateningly injured on her neck. Bystanders and some rioters blamed the lady’s injury on police officers, who, they said, had fired live bullets to scare the rioters away.
Speaking to journalists, the Acting Chairperson of the Commission, Rev. Bartholomew B. Colley, confirmed that live bullets were discharged by officers of the LNP.
“The recent action and denial of the police is making one to reflect. The Liberia National Police over the years has been under the spotlight for some unethical behavior while carrying out duties,” he stated.
The local rights commission head insisted that the police did allegedly fire live bullets that led to the injury of Helena Nimely.
The commission has condemned the action of the police for using live bullet on unarmed rioters in the Kebbah Community of Barnesville.
According to the report, the riot began when a group of angry youth decided to violently avenge the death of two motorcyclists, who were hit by a truck on Kebbah Road.
According to eyewitnesses, the angry youths smashed the windshield of the truck and attempted setting it ablaze.
The standoff, which lasted for hours, intensified after the police started firing live bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd, according to eyewitnesses.
But the LNP has since denied the allegation. “They fired more than four times and the other bullet hit the woman from the neck that’s how the crowd scattered and some people gathered around the woman to take her to hospital. So the police should not lie that there were no live bullets fired,” Catherina Freeman, a resident of Kebbah explained to reporters.
According to Rev. Colley, their own investigation revealed that the motorcycle accident left its two occupants severely injured and this led to the mob violence.
He also said, the role of the police did not deter the protesters from their actions as they allegedly threw petrol bombs, stones and other objects at the officers.
He noted that the INCHR’s finding is contrary to the statements coming from the Deputy Police Inspector-General, Col. Robert Budy, the Police spokesman, Moses Carter, and other members of the LNP.
“The INCHR sees this action by the police as a shameful abdication of her statutory responsibilities and an attempt to cover up shady deeds of unscrupulous elements within the LNP. This threatens the enjoyment of the rights of all within the borders of Liberia,” he noted.