Liberia National Police Denies Firing Live Bullet in Recent Riot Control
Monrovia – There is no doubt that officers surrounded the Barnesville Kebbah area on June 27, 2018 and that those officers had guns on the scene.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
But a crucial question about the confrontation between motorcyclists and police officers has always been whether officers discharged their firearms leading to the wounding of Helena Nimely.
On Wednesday, July 4, at a news conference by the Deputy Inspector General for Operations, Col. Robert Budy, clarified that no lethal weapon was used on the scene of the incident contrary to what was said by Florence Nagbe, who attended to the wounds of Helena at the Trinity Healing Health Hospital in Barnesville.
Nagbe, a nurse at the hospital, confirmed to reporters that her patient had sustained bullet wound on her neck, though the bullet was not found in the wound.
But Col. Budy admitted to a firing on the scene but specified that such was a non-lethal weapon sound and not a gun sound.
He challenged any Liberian to provide evidence that a police officer shot the victim, Helena. “We want to challenge anyone or call any member of the general public to come forward to produce evidence linking the police to have used lethal weapon(s) which caused the injury sustained by Nimely.”
Col. Budy states, “Victim Helena sustained laceration on her right neck but no foreign body was noted, which suggest that no residue or particle was observed on laceration of Nimely by the attending practitioner.”
“Therefore, it is impossible for a bullet or projectile to have caused the laceration leaving no trace of any foreign body, contrary to many reports that she was wounded by bullet or projectile which was fired by police officers on the scene of the incident.”
Additionally, he said physical examination suggests that the victim was conscious and sustained laceration from the back of her right neck about 14- centimeters from her right ear.
Col. Budy indicated that whatever object or wound inflated on Nimely started from the back up to the front of her right neck adding that it is impossible for a police officer to fire Nimely from the front of her neck and see the laceration from the back to the front.
Meanwhile, he said Nimely is currently being treated at the THT Center in Barnersville and is expected to be discharged later today.
However, he said medical report advice that she conducts an x-ray on her neck and is to as well continue wound care.
Col. Budy called on Liberians to be law abiding, desist and refrain from mob violence especially when there is an incident that requires police intervention or investigation.
“Liberia is a country of Law and no one is above the law as such adhering to the law is cardinal to social and economic development of Liberia,” he told media practitioners Wednesday.
Helena was reportedly the victim of a stray bullet believed to have been fired by officers of the LNP, in an attempt to disperse an angry crowd that was bent on setting a truck ablaze and mobbing its driver after colliding with a motorcyclist – an accident that led to the death of the operator and the passenger he was carrying on Wednesday morning.
The Kebbah incident followed after a dump truck and a motorbike collided leaving the bike rider Rufus Vambo and co-rider Stewart Bridges dead upon arrival at the James Doe Young Hospital.
Helena, who believes she missed death by the skin of the teeth, told reporters while on her treatment bed, that she had just left a clinic in the Kebbah area where she had been receiving medical attention and was on her way home when she saw the crowd of young people and the police.
According to her, she was far from where the riot was happening but heard gunshots and while trying to cross the street to move from harm’s way, she felt the hit on her neck and suddenly dropped to the ground.
Helena told reporters that she was grateful to God that she’s still alive.
“I came from the clinic crossing the road and I saw the police shooting, suddenly they shot me and I fell,” she explained.
She continued, “If I was going to die it was going to be very bad for my kids. My kids are fatherless; how were they going to manage?”
Helena believes that police were shooting indiscriminately.
Residents in the community showed reporters a hole in a wall of a structure near the riot scene which they claimed was caused by a bullet discharged by the police.