-two others charged for ‘lying’ to investigators
A SERVING member of the Guyana Police Force was, on Tuesday, remanded to prison for allegedly murdering Quindon Bacchus on June 10, while two of his colleagues faced obstruction charges for their alleged actions following the shooting incident.
Lance Corporal Kristoff DeNobrega, 22, of Downer Canal Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara; Lance Corporal Thurston Simon, 24, of Bare Root, East Coast Demerara; and Cadet Officer Dameion McLennon, 35, of ‘B’ Field, Sophia, appeared via zoom at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
DeNobrega was charged with the capital offence of murder, which alleged that he fatally shot Bacchus at Haslington New Scheme, East Coast of Demerara. He was not required to plead to the charge and was remanded to prison until July 19.
Meanwhile, Simon and McLennon were separately charged for wilfully attempting to obstruct the course of justice by giving false information to the police during the course of the investigation into Bacchus’ death.
Police Prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent of Police Neville Jeffers, presented the case facts.
He told the court that the three officers, who were attached to the Police Special Branch, told investigators that, on June 10, they went to Haslington to meet with Bacchus, who was allegedly selling unlicensed firearms.
During the “sting” operation, the three officers said that Bacchus pulled out a firearm and opened fire at them, resulting in the trio returning fire with their service weapons.
Jeffers told the court that Bacchus, a father of one received seven gunshot wounds and had to be rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation where he died.
He said based on investigations conducted and statements taken from the other police ranks who were at the scene, there were inconsistencies in the three officers’ statements.
According to Jeffers, the force’s ballistics expert tested the alleged firearm which was found in Bacchus’ possession and concluded that it was impossible for Bacchus to open fire at the ranks since his gun was not functional.
The prosecutor said that, on June 11, Simon gave two statements to investigators on his account of the shooting and attempted to “cover up” the truth of what transpired at the scene by giving false information.
Simon, Jeffers said, claimed that he did not open fire at Bacchus. However, not only was this found to be untrue, but the other ranks at the scene saw him shooting at Bacchus.
“He was trying to misinform investigators about the truth of what really transpired,” Prosecutor Jeffers told the court.
Similarly, according to the prosecutor, this was also the case for Cadet Officer McLennon. According to Jeffers, on June 30, McLennon gave his statement to investigators and said he did not discharge his firearm at Bacchus.
However, McLennon told investigators that he gave two of his rounds to another officer during the “shoot out.”
Jeffers said that this was a lie since that ballistic expert found that two rounds were discharged from McLennon’s service pistol and its spent shells were recovered at the scene.
He added that there were several inconsistencies with Simon and McLennon’s statements. He strongly objected to the two officers being released on bail since they might tamper with witnesses, which mostly consist of police officers.
Among other things, Jeffers said that the two ranks denied giving chase and opening fire at Bacchus, but other police officers who were at the scene said the opposite.
Simon and McLennon were represented by attorney-at-law Everton Singh-Lammy, who told the court that Simon has done “nothing but performed his police work.”
He also said that Simon was allegedly threatened by senior ranks that he would be prosecuted under the Secrets Acts and was instructed not to reveal “secretive things” from the incident or department.
The Chief Magistrate refused to grant Simon and McLennon bail on the grounds of the “high likelihood” that they will tamper with witnesses. As such, she remanded them to prison until July 22.
On Sunday, Head of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), Justice (Ret’d) William Ramlall, said in a press release that he had recommended charges against three ranks but he did not reveal their names. He indicated that he had forwarded the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, for her to decided who was to be charged and for what offences.
The DPP subsequently advised the police to proceed with charging the trio. In addition to the criminal charge, Simon was charged departmentally with conduct prejudice to good order and discipline, contrary to Section 4(z) of the Police (Discipline) Act, Chapter 17:01.
The PCA investigated the matter in collaboration with the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to ensure a free, fair, and transparent finding.
Bacchus’s fatal shooting has had much public attention, with his family calling for justice and an independent probe.
Last week, a protest was held along the East Coast of Demerara corridor resulting from a false report on social media which claimed that the rank who allegedly shot and killed Bacchus had been released.
Police issued a statement rejecting the false report stating that DeNobrega was still under arrest at the Police Headquarters.
Following the protest, 16 men appeared at the Cove and John Magistrate’s Court, for allegedly engaging in riotous behaviour.