Police kill Essequibo Coast businessman during “anti-crime operation”
…family says man was shot in sleep, death sparks massive protest
By Raywattie Deonarine
The Guyana Police Force’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit has shot and killed a 29-year-old businessman of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) during an “anti-crime” operation early Wednesday morning.
Orin Boston, who owned the “Ease Meh Stress” bar located at Hoppy Street, Dartmouth was shot and killed in his home some time around 04:40h.
Police, in a statement, said that ranks were conducting an anti-crime operation in Division two (Essequibo Coast) and entered into Boston’s house to conduct a search for “prohibited items”. However, during the search there was a confrontation between Boston and the police resulting in him being shot to his upper left arm
An injured Boston was then picked up by the Police and transported to the Suddie Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was the father of two children -ages six and seven.
The Commissioner of Police have since ordered an investigation into the incident.
Family’s cries, ordeal
The man’s family is disputing the Police’s version of what transpired. They are accusing the officers of being extremely unprofessional and alleging that Boston was shot while in his bed.
A visibly traumatized Feona Boston, the man’s wife, said that the entire ordeal has been horrifying. She related that both she and her husband were in their bed when they heard a knock followed by their bedroom door being kicked open.
“I got scared when I saw the door open. The men were with huge guns pointing to my husband and then they fired the trigger. So, when they come, they just break down this door hay and they shoot he,” the woman explained.
Feona added that the Police then took her husband out of their home, laid him naked on the concrete, while members of the SWAT team ransacked their home. She recounted after the SWAT team searched their home and came up with nothing, they then placed Orin at the back of their van and took him to the Suddie Public Hospital.
“…hands in the air”
Meanwhile, one of Orin’s sisters Latacy Boston related that the Police ordered everyone to exit the house with their hands up. Latacy added that she lives in another house in the same yard as her brother and they were woken up the Police stormed their home as well.
“They was like everybody come out with they hands in the air,” she explained.
The terrified young woman further explained that when she came out of her room, the Police were in her house ordering her not to move and then telling her to sit down in a chair. The SWAT team then entered her sister’s room and started searching after which her mother came out and she was also ordered to sit.
Latacy had left her young child in her room so she pleaded with the officer to go and get the child, they agreed. The woman also brought out her phone with her child and started recording but she claimed that the officers prohibited her from doing so.
She related that there were officers that entered their home donning grey clothing with SWAT vests.
“So, after they came in the house and we sit down they asked who live over deh. I said my brother live over there. So, they leave the house where we were sitting and they went over there. So I get up and I come outside and an officer was standing there with a gun, he said ‘go back inside, don’t come outside.’ So, we end up go back inside and I sit down. Like a minute after, I heard a gunshot and after I heard the gunshot, I see the kids outside, then the wife came to the door.”
“My sister-in-law said she and her husband was in bed. She said he had a bath last night and he go in with his bare towel and he fall asleep with the towel. So, after he fall asleep with the towel, she said she heard the banging on the door so when they [officers] kick down the room door, he jump up. She said when he jumped up they shot him in his shoulder, they just shot him. They didn’t find no drugs, no ammunition, no weapon, no nothing they find anything,” Latacy related.
The woman said after her brother was shot, the officers tried to treat the wound at the scene but were unsuccessful. She said that even though her brother was shot and bleeding, no officer explained to the family the reason for their presence.
“I see they lifting my brother and bringing him out, before they even lift him and bring him out, one of them run through the door and say ‘the bag, the bag, bring the bag’…he was butt naked, they put him down on the floor and after they put him down on the floor the guy bring back the bag and I don’t know what was in the bag…So, they bring it back and they wrap his hand, try to put something on his hand and they saying ‘bring the van, bring the van’ so van back up and they throw him in the back of the van and they gone,” Latacy recounted.
The sister further posited that when she tried to get answers from the officers, they were rude and unprofessional.
“I was traumatized. So after he [a police officer] said ‘don’t say anything’, and I said ‘don’t say anything after yall just shoot my f***ing brother and I must not say anything, that’s how it’s supposed to be?’. I said I coming with them and they said nobody is to leave the house. But I jump in my vehicle, which was parked there and I head behind them to Suddie [Hospital],” the woman explained.
Latacy told Guyana Times that when she arrived at Suddie Hospital she saw her brother on a bed. She checked his body but was promptly told to leave by the doctor. She room and shortly received the message that Orin was dead.
She said that police officers did not make contact with the family to provide an explanation.
The family said that they need answers and need them quickly because the Police’s behaviour has left too much to be desired.
Orin’s killing triggered massive protests in the village with residents burning tires, old vehicles and blocking streets. They are demanding justice for what they claim to be a coldblooded murder.
The protests started early in the morning as word of the killing spread through the relatively quiet community of Dartmouth. The residents blocked off the roads and bridges through the community and began burning debris while chanting for justice.
With just one main road running along the Essequibo Coast, it meant that persons were stranded on both sides of the fiery protest.
“The public is advised that operations at the Charity Post Office are being affected due to the ongoing protest in the village of Dartmouth. Kindly note that some of our services will not be available until the current issue has been resolved. We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” the Post Office said in a Facebook post.
Up until late Wednesday night, the Guyana Police Force have been unsuccessful in clearing the roadway allowing for the free flow of traffic through the community.
Independent prove and damaged credibility
Late Wednesday evening, the Boston family through their attorneys Nigel Hughes and Konyo Sandiford called for an independent investigation into the matter since they say that the credibility of the Guyana Police Force has been severely damaged in their view.
In a statement, the family said that Feona felt as though she would have been shot after the Police fired at her husband. It added that the Police initially encountered Orin’s young daughter, who they removed from the house.
The family took umbrage with the Police’s statement to the media which they say was issued before even talking to eyewitnesses and has called for an independent investigation into his death by independent professional investigators with the appropriate contemporary forensic equipment and training.
Additionally, they are demanding that the course of investigation ensures that the hands of the ranks on duty as Orin’s be dusted for gun powder residue; examination of body camera footage; taking possession of the bloodied pillow and bed sheet; determination of whether a search warrant was issued for Orin’s premises; recovery of spent shells; the intelligence that led to the search of Orin’s home; what exactly the police were looking for, the standard operating procedures deployed when they entered Orin’s bedroom; the trajectory of the bullet.
The Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting an investigation into the matter.