The blame for the death of seventeen inmates and injuries to several others during the March 3, 2016 Georgetown Prisons riot is being thrown squarely at the feet of Deputy Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels.
The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) established to probe the riot recommenced hearing testimonies today (Monday).
During testimonies today, inmates recalled that Samuels, who on March 4, 2016 was sent on six weeks leave to facilitate the probe, gave wardens orders to lock the door of the burning Capital-A Building with inmates inside.
Taking the stand, murder accused Kenneth Griffith in his testimony, told the three-member commission that Samuels instructed prison wardens to lock the door after he was told inmates were responsible for setting a fire in the Capital -A building.
Griffith, who broke down during the testimony, recounted that Samuels asked the prison warden who was outside the door if he was responsible for the fire, to which the warden responded in the negative.
He said that it was at this point that Samuels said, “…lock the door and leh deh sk**t bun…y’all ain’t light no fire? Come down and lock the door.”
The accused murderer, who was housed in the Capital C building, said he personally pleaded with the Deputy Director of Prisons to free the trapped inmates who were shouting “murder.”
“I said Mr. Samuels is people like yourself up there and he walk away… I don’t know if the other officers were intimidated by the gun in his waist but they didn’t move,” Griffith added.
Attorney representing the Joint Services Selwyn Pieters objected to Griffith’s testimony, claiming that Samuels did not lead the task force, an assertion which was rejected by the witness, who continued to ask the attorney if he was present during the incident.
Griffith said efforts by wardens to open the door were only made after Officer-in-Charge of Camp Street Prison, Kevin Pilgrim intervened.
“After Mr. Pilgrim spoke to them, then they picked up tools and hose and ran but by then the smoke was heavy and whatever efforts didn’t help.”
The second inmate to take the stand today was 23–year–old Trevor Williams, who said that a missile was hurled at Samuels from the Capitol B block, while carrying out an operation on March 3, 2016.
Williams could not confirm who threw the piece of rock.
Inmates claimed that a search on the alleged ringleader in the Camp Street penitentiary, Collis Collison on March 3 sparked the uproar among prisoners who believe that he was unfairly treated.
Collison who made a second appearance before the commission denied that he resisted the search and was non–compliant.
However, video evidence shows that Collison was engaged in brief scuffle with members of the prison task force before he was restrained.
Under cross-examination by Attorney Pieters, Collison denied that he attacked a prison warden during the course of the search.
Instead, he claimed that he was beaten into a state of unconsciousness by officers.
Williams backed up Collison’s evidence and claimed that he was cooperative during the search.
He said it was the officers who attacked Collison and cuffed him on his hands and feet.