–thorough investigation of Essequibo businessman’s death to be conducted, says Top Cop
COMMISSIONER of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie, has said that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) possesses the ability to conduct a “comprehensive, impartial, and professional” investigation into the shooting death of Essequibo businessman, Orin Boston.
Reports are that Boston, who operates the “Ease Meh Stress” bar in Region Two, was shot by an officer of the GPF’s special weapons and tactics (SWAT) unit, who was part of a team which conducted an operation at the businessman’s Dartmouth house on Wednesday morning.
The man’s death led to protests by residents of Dartmouth, who started burning debris on the main access bridge, to prevent traffic from flowing.
The actions of the residents caught the attention of high-ranking members of the GPF, including Commissioner Hoppie, who paid a visit to the community.
Hoppie said that while investigations are ongoing, he has the utmost confidence in the force’s ability to conduct an independent and professional investigation into the man’s death.
The Police Commissioner ordered that ranks of the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) commence an immediate investigation into the death of 29-year-old businessman.
“We have statistics to show that we have conducted several investigations on several different matters that were brought against ranks in the force, including matters of criminal nature where persons were incarcerated for wrongful acts against members of society. So, based upon that, we are confident that we are capable of conducting a comprehensive, impartial, and professional investigation,” Commissioner Hoppie said.
When questioned by journalists about the operation during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, the Police Commissioner explained that it was “necessary” to have the SWAT team there because of the information which the force had received. He said that SWAT team operatives are deployed when necessary due to their level of training.
Commissioner Hoppie said that the team was deployed to search Boston’s house for “prohibited items” but nothing was found.
It was revealed by the police that Boston was shot with a .223 caliber rifle to the upper left arm. The SWAT team consisted of one gazetted officer and 11 ranks of the GPF.
Addressing Boston’s wife, Feona Boston’s claim of her husband being shot while he asleep, Commissioner Hoppie said: “Based upon what they are claiming [her and other relatives], all will be brought out in the investigation and that’s the reason I asked for a speedy and comprehensive one to be done.”
The Police Commissioner noted that while it is too early to determine accurately if there was any breach of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s), the ongoing investigations into the matter will reveal if there was such.
He said that if there were any breaches, those person or persons responsible will be dealt with in accordance with the police force’s guidelines for breach of SOPs.
“The truth is, we’re always concerned with the ranks, especially when excessive force is used in any operation. So that is why in this instance, I asked for an investigation to commence urgently so that we can ascertain if there was any excessive force, so that all those individuals that are found guilty could be dealt [with],” Hoppie said.
Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum, confirmed that based on initial checks, Boston was never a prosecuted criminal.
As investigations into the matter continue, the accusation is that ranks kicked down the door of the house and proceeded to ransack “everything.”
Feona said that her husband had just finished taking a bath and went to bed when the ranks entered the house. Her claim is that her husband was shot in his sleep.
“I saw a set of men in my house with guns, they just barged in with long guns and rushed into the house… my husband was lying on the bed with his underwear on when they shot him,” she related.
She said that officers, after shooting Boston, took him outside of the house and attempted to resuscitate him through CPR but were unsuccessful.