Liberia: Several Police Officers Disrobed after Four Shooting Incidents in a Month

Deputy Inspector General for Administration, Sadatu Reeves

Monrovia – Several officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have been reprimanded for discharging their firearms illegally which resulted in serious bodily injuries of four persons in four separate incidents.

One of the incidents occurred in Kingsville, District #1, Montserrado County on June 24, 2019, when a group of aggrieved residents staged a riot in demand of justice for the mysterious death of two children.

A team headed by Careysburg Detachment Executive Officer (EO) was dispatched to ascertain the situation. Based on the feedback from the EO, a 10 man Police Support Unit (PSU) team led by Inspector Vincent Abban was also dispatched to negotiate with the rioters to remove the roadblocks.

All efforts to dialogue and negotiate with the rioters to have the roadblocks removed by responding officers proved futile. 

As a result of the escalation of the violence, the Careysburg Police was unable to contain the situation, thus, causing C/Supt. Johnson to report the escalation to authority through the appropriate chain of command. 

Subsequently, PSU officers headed by Insp. Vincent C. Abban took charge of the incident.  As the negotiation failed and the PSU attempted to remove the roadblock through riot control tactics, the rioters started throwing stones according to some bystanders at which time there was shooting by Police officers.

Deputy Inspector General Sadatu Reeves in a press conference on Monday disclosed that when the incident occurred, the Professional Standards Department along with an Investigative Team was established to investigate circumstances surrounding the ‘Shooting’ incident in Kingsville.

The actions by the officers resulted in injuries and the subsequent death of one person in Kingsville.

Saah Saah 18, sustained an injury on his left foot; Dave Mombo, 18, sustained an injury on his left leg tibia; and 17 years Abraham Tommy sustained injury on his head resulting in death.

In addition, police officers Morris Dahn of the PSU, and Sgt. Gbornima Barmabia of the Montserrado County Police also sustained injuries in the leg and head respectively. 

The officers were initially treated at C. H Rennie Hospital in Margibi County and referred to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

There were six LNP officers in possession of firearms including chief superintendent Philip Johnson, Inspector Morris M. Dahn, Sergeant Emmanuel Melikamue, and Patrolman Thompson Pobleh, Ernest Kurah, Josephus Lewis.

Officers Dahn, Pobleh, Lewis and Melikamue discharged their weapons during the protest in Kingsville. 

Police investigation established that when the incident escalated, the Team Leader, Insp. Abban who also served as the driver for the team got in the assigned vehicle, avoided supervision of his officers, drove away from the concentrated area without prior notice to his officers. 

He (Abban) stated that he relinquished his power of supervision to the deputy team leader Morris M. Dahn, which means the team was left unsupervised before the unauthorized discharge of firearms. 

Madam Reeves said the action by officer Abban contravened LNP Duty Manual Chapter which states “All Commanders, Managers and Supervisors shall be subject to supervisory accountability for the actions of subordinates if the superior knew or should have known of acts, omissions or facilitation that constitutes a violation of any section of this Duty Manual, including section 3.1.1; or that constitutes a crime or foster a climate of corrupt practices, and they fail to take the remedial and required action.”

Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death dated June 25, 2019, from Du-Side Firestone Medical Center shows that Abraham Tommy died as the result of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

For victim Saah, he was discharged on Tuesday, June 25, by the John F. Kennedy Medical Center while victim Dave Mombo was transferred from the Du-side Hospital in Margibi County, and is said to be undergoing medical treatment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. 

The LNP Deputy Inspector General said the justification provided by the four officers for the discharge of live bullets in the air, claiming that their lives were in danger is a complete contradiction of LNP Policies and international standards on the use of firearms by law enforcement officers. 

Madam Reeves stating police best practice said, “If the subject officers reasonably believed that their lives were in danger, they should have put stop to the threat by shooting directly to the targets which endangered their lives and the lives of others in line with the Use of Force Continuum; and the option to discharge live bullets in the air lacks necessity, reasonability, proportionality and right judgment.”

Actions Taken by LNP 

Officers Dahn, ID #:0784, Melikamue, ID # 0765, Pobleh, ID # 2680 and  Lewis, ID # 4537 were announced disrobed, interdicted with 2/3 salary payment in accordance with Part IV, Section 22.91, letter ‘H’ of the LNP Act of 2015, and turned over to the Crime Services Department for criminal investigation.

The responding PSU Team Leader,  Abban, ID #0444 was also dismissed for breaching the LNP Duty Manual Chapters and the Police Support Unit Standard Operating Procedures & New Organizational Structure Chapter 5.3 paragraph two, leading to poor supervision that resulted in some of the officers under his supervision discharging their firearms.

Additionally, he (Abban) did not adhere to the order of the operations “NO LETHAL WEAPON”. 

Furthermore, Madam Reeves said the use of firearms could have been avoided if Abban had disengaged and wait for backup as he was advised by one of the team members, Josephine Sackor as established during investigation.

Officers Suspended without Pay  

Madam Reeves announced the suspensions for one month off the job of Police Head of the Operations Department, Commissioner Walter B. Wray II, Godfrey K. Kollie for two months, and ACP Wadell Kwabo, three months without pay.

She said there will be an appropriate salary cut, though she did not disclose the amounts to be deducted from the three officers.

After suspensions, they are expected to attend Leadership training.

For Wray, he is suspended for failure to follow through the PSU team scope of operation, when he had earlier ordered the use of tear gas to remove the roadblocks as confirmed in his observation paragraph 3, first sentence, “I did not get any information until the DIGP/ADM & Acting Inspector General, Hon. Sadatu Reeves (U-101) called and informed me of shooting in the Kingsville area and someone was wounded”.

Kollie is suspended for failure to designate someone in the Chain of Command to act in his absence. 

Additionally, Kollie failed to submit an incident report through the chain of command about the incident. Furthermore, he failed to comply with the request from this investigation to produce a written report within 12 hours after the occurrence of the incident.

The act by Kollie violates the Police Support Unit Standard Operating Procedures & New Organizational Structure Chapter 5.3 paragraph two which states “Immediately, after an occurrence of an incident involving the use of force or firearms or other items of law enforcement equipment and regardless of whether or not such use resulted in death or injury to people or damage to property…, 

While Kwabo was suspended for failure to delegate responsibility to other Command level Officers assigned within the ranks and files of PSU and his action led to endangering the lives of members of Liberia National Police, the civilian and public at large.

Charged With Murder

The two deceased were sent by their guardians, Bendu Boakai (grandmother of Thomas Kollie) and Garmah Daniels (mother of Elijah Porluma) to sell.

Police investigation established that their body discovery scene could have been established by any normal person because of the foul odor from the decomposed body. 

Sayou and Yanbakulo have been charged with murder in violation of Chapter 14, Section 14.1 of the Revised Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia.

Foul Established, bodies buried

Madam Reeves disclosed that a fifteen-member Coroner Jury was set up to conduct inquest on the two victim’s bodies and established foul play in the death of the two kids. 

The bodies were turned over to their respective bereaved families headed by their fathers: Morris Kollie and Henry F. Porluma for funeral rites based on a request to the Liberia National Police and also due to the decomposed state of the bodies. 

Other Shooting Incidents

At the same time, the LNP has disrobed Sergeant Joseph Abdullah for illegally discharging his firearm which resulted in the death of a man identified as Mohammed Kamara in the Fish Town Community on July 4, 2019.

In the New Georgia Incident on June 25, 2019, Police Chief Inspector Humphrey Kahn is disrobed for illegally discharging his firearm in the St. Michael, New Georgia, Gardnersville while attempting to arrest a stolen motorbike suspect. 

Officer Kahn and the head of the PSU, Wadell Kwabo (U-121) were immediately disrobed and turned over to the Professional Standards Department for investigation.  

And the Budget Bureau Community Shooting which occurred on June 30 Chief Inspector Peecho F. Worjloh has been dismissed with immediate effect for illegally discharging his firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

Pundit wonders why the four incidents occurred when Madam Reeves served as Acting Inspector General in the absence of Patrick Sudue who traveled to the United States for a seminar.

Sources say Col. Sudue trip was shortened due to the numerous shooting incidents.