Regional News of Thursday, 10 October 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
The shooting to death of a 35-year-old man by a policeman in broad daylight at Akwatia Line in Kumasi on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, has brought residents of the area and the police on a collision course.
The police claim that the victim, Rashid Mohammed, was a suspected robber who resisted arrest and threatened to hit the police with a sharp axe.
However, residents have dismissed the allegations by the police, saying the victim was innocent, unarmed and physically challenged, and posed no threat to the police at the time he was shot.
Annoyed by the incident, a section of the residents staged a massive demonstration against the police, accusing them of being unprofessional, and demanded the immediate release of Mohammed’s body for burial in accordance with Muslim tradition.
But the police refused to release the body, which had been deposited at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) mortuary for autopsy.
The refusal of the police to release Mohammed’s body for burial agitated the demonstrators, who started throwing stones and other implements at the police, who responded by firing tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
A reporter of Luv FM, Mr Erastus Asare Donkor, who was covering the demonstration, was manhandled by the police, who snatched his iPad and a recorder as they dragged him on the ground to prevent him from capturing the hectic confrontation.
In the process, Donkor’s shirt and pair of trousers were torn.
Expressing concern over the shooting incident, a spokesman for the demonstrators, Mr Karim Alhassan, said it was time the police exhibited professionalism in their quest to combat crime in the country.
He told the Daily Graphic in an interview that Mohammed was in his room around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the police stormed the place, alleging that Mohammed had attacked some students and robbed them of their cash and other valuables.
He said since the victim was physically challenged in one of his legs, there was no way he could have escaped police arrest if he had, indeed, committed any crime.
Mr Alhassan said it was, therefore, unprofessional for the police to shoot at Mohammed to deny him the opportunity to defend himself.
He, therefore, appealed to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to institute investigations into the incident and bring those involved to book.
The Ashanti Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mohammed Yusif Tanko, however, denied the claim that the police acted unprofessionally in their quest to arrest Mohammed.
“When the police attempted to arrest him, he pulled out a sharp axe and threatened to dismember any policeman who attempted to arrest him,” he noted.
He said Mohammed was in a room at Akwatia Line, and in an attempt to escape arrest, he came out of the room at a time some patrol policemen had entered the room and attempted to arrest him for allegedly attacking some students from Success City Academy.
Explaining why the police attempted to arrest Mohammed, ASP Tanko said they had a distress call that four robbers had stormed the Success City Academy and were robbing the students and the members of staff of their cash, mobile phones and other valuables.
He said a team of patrol policemen was, therefore, dispatched to the school to arrest the alleged robbers, but on reaching the school, the team realised that the suspects had escaped with their booty.
ASP Tanko said one of the victims who had followed the suspects, four in all, managed to direct the police to a room where one of the suspects had hidden.
He said when the police followed the direction and entered the room, they saw Mohammed, who fit the description given to them by the victims.
He said the police also found that Mohammed was armed with an axe, a hammer and a sharp machete.
According to ASP Tanko, when the police entered the room where Mohammed had hidden, he picked an axe and threatened to hurt any policeman who got closer.
He said it was at that time that Mohammed came out from the room and attempted to escape, which caused the police to shoot at him.