Fatal Police shooting at Riverview: Gun allegedly belonging to victim never recovered

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It is approaching two months since 30-year-old Deanraj Singh of Riverview Squatting Area, Ruimveldt, Georgetown was shot and killed by Police, however, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is only now in the process of preparing its report on the matter.

Contacted on Thursday for an update, OPR Head, Assistant Police Superintendent Elston Baird confirmed that the investigation was completed and that the report should be concluded soon. When pressed for a timeline, the OPR Head declined to give one.

“The report is being prepared, in the process of being prepared for legal advice to be sought…I can’t give a timeline, but I know it’s going to be prepared shortly,” he stated.

Baird declined to answer questions regarding the status of the Police Officers who were involved in the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Singh. In fact, he directed further questions on the matter to the Guyana Police Force’s Communications Unit.

Head of that Unit, Mark Ramotar has since explained that the OPR could not advise on the status of the ranks involved, that is, whether they are under close arrest or operating as per normal. He was also unable to comment on the role of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), if any, in the investigation.

On the evening of May 24, Singh was fatally shot by Police who were responding to a report at Riverview.

The GPF released a statement explaining that Singh and his ex-wife, a 32-year-old mother of three, had separated several years ago. However, Singh would still visit the woman and assault her.

As such, on June 25, 2021, the woman was granted a Protection Order by the court against him.

Police said that “despite the order being granted, he consistently violated the order by going to her house and beating her up and damaging her property”.

Police said the man was also charged criminally with Break and Enter and Larceny and other offences including assault. In fact, two arrest warrants were issued for both offences. “He also has several criminal charges pending against him,” Police had said.

On the day in question, the woman was at home when Singh went to the house and reportedly severely beat her.

“She called the Ruimveldt Police Station and reported the incident. Police ranks, including a member of the Neighbourhood Police, all responded to the report. One of the Police ranks was carrying a .38 revolver and six live rounds,” Police Headquarters had explained.

The ranks went to a house at Riverview where the suspect and some friends were consuming alcohol. Police had said when Singh saw the ranks, he ran into a house, jumped through a window, and dashed towards the Demerara River. The cops, as well as the victim, reportedly gave chase.

“One of the Police ranks claim that while walking on the landing heading towards the river, he heard a sound coming from the bushes on the river bank, so he quickly shined his torchlight in the direction and saw [Singh] with an object in his right hand, which was followed by a loud explosion, so he immediately discharged two rounds in [Singh’s] direction, and he saw him run and jump into the Demerara River,” Police said.

A search was then conducted for Singh, but he was not found.

The following day, a fisherman of Riverview Squatting Area discovered his body lying on the mudflat of the Demerara River. The body was examined by crime scene technicians who discovered one suspected gunshot wound on the right side of his abdomen.

The hands of both the suspect and the Police rank, as well as clothing, were tested for gunpowder residue. The firearm, ammunition, and spent shells were marked, sealed, and delivered to the Ballistics Department for analysis.

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) had also disclosed at the time that the OPR was investigating the matter.

No gun recovered

Police had also explained that the area was searched, but no trace of the now dead man’s suspected firearm was discovered. When contacted for an update on whether the gun was ever retrieved, Ramotar responded in the negative.

“The gun was not recovered,” he told this publication.

The Police’s account that the now dead man had initially fired a shot at them is now being questioned, even more so, in light of the revelations regarding the June 10, 2022 fatal Police shooting of 23-year-old Quindon Bacchus of Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara (ECD).

The GPF’s official statement on that incident indicated that the officers involved in the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Bacchus claimed that the man had discharged shots at them, causing them to return fire.

However, Police Prosecutor Neville Jeffers disclosed during recent court proceedings that the investigation found that the firearm, which Bacchus had in his possession at the time of the incident, was not in working condition.

Three cops have since been charged in relation to the man’s murder: Lance Corporal Kristoff DeNobrega who was charged with the capital office of murder, and Thurston Simon and Dameion McLennon who were charged for obstruction of justice. They were all remanded to prison.

The charges against the cops were instituted almost one month after the fatal shooting occurred and amid much public pressure coupled with violent protests along the ECD corridor.

Justice

But for family members of Singh, they are still awaiting justice.

“They [Police] never come back and tell we anything,” explained Marissa Atwell, the victim’s sister.

“But we want justice for my brother,” she contended, admitting that family members never visited the Police Station to follow up on the investigation.

Referring to the way the case was handled with Bacchus, Atwell posited that “we feel bad because like everybody getting justice but them ain’t call we back to tell we anything, we ain’t hear back nothing about the Police or if the Police get charged, lock up or what.”

“And them never say if they find gunpowder pon he hand…but he ain’t had no gun, and they ain’t find no gun, they search the area and they ain’t find the gun, so where the gun deh?” the sister contended.

Back in May, family members who had spoken to this publication under the condition of anonymity had also refuted the Police’s claim that Singh was armed at the time when he was being chased by ranks.

“Since the night four of them went out here drinking. I went lay down in my (bed). The Police them come, run the man, the man run (into) the house, from the house the man run through the window. When he run through the window, he had no knife, no gun, nothing on he,” an eyewitness had told this publication.

The eyewitness had contended that the Police, after chasing the unarmed man for a while, started to shoot at him.

“Them shoot the man! They know they hit the man! Them ain’t tell nobody nothing; they go away…left the man to die, and didn’t tell nobody nothing…They know they shoot the man!”