Liberia: ‘The Police Lied’ – Father of Riot Shooting Victim Cries for Justice
MONROVIA – Mr. Nathan Greaves, guardian of Abraham Toomey who was allegedly shot in the head by police officers on Monday in Kingsville, Lower Montserrado County, has expressed dismay and described as “wicked” the police denial of the incident.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Toomey, 17, was allegedly shot by riot police officers on Monday in their bid to disperse a crowd of protestors who had setup roadblocks and checkpoints on the Monrovia-Kakata demanding justice for the alleged ritualistic killings of two minors in the area.
The bodies of Thomas Kollie, 10 years old and Elijah Porluma, 9 years old were discovered on June 3, 2019 in the bushes of Kingsville hours after they were sent on Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31, 2019 by their parents to sell but did not return home and were declared missing.
The Liberia National Police (LNP) late Monday evening posted to their Facebook page that while responding officers of the LNP were trying to remove the road blocks and illegal checkpoints from the Kakata Highway, they were stiffly resisted with stone throwing protestors and the use of other dangerous weapons including steel rods and petrol bombs which resulted in the injuries of three residents of Kingsville including: Saah Saah, 18, Dave Mombo, 18, and Abraham Tumba, 17 years old, all of the same community. Also, two officers, namely: Insp. Morris Dahn, and Sgt. Gbornimah Barmabia sustained head and leg injuries. Those who sustained injuries are said to be responding to treatment at the Du-Side Hospital in Margibi County and the John F. Kennedy Medical hospital in Monrovia.
However, Mr. Greaves confirmed to FrontPageAfrica on Tuesday afternoon that Toomey died of bullet wounds at the Dusa Hospital in Firestone, Harbel.
He expressed shock that the police would release a statement distancing itself from the incident.
“It’s a blatant lie. The people were staging a peaceful protest. No one had petrol bomb, cutlass or steel rod. They killed the boy and they don’t want to admit it. Why would they do that? He was only roasting corn and decided to run when he saw the them coming,” he said in a lamenting tone.
According to him, the protestors were peaceful in their demonstration, seeking justice from the government. He said, “the police must be wicked to say that they were being attacked by the citizens. Why didn’t they shoot in the air? Why didn’t they fire tear gas? Why did they shoot directly at the people?” he asked rhetorically.
He lamented that his son was not one of the protestors. “Abraham would be turning 18 next month. He had just come back from school and decided to go help his sister roast corn. He was not one of the protestors. He was only running from the police when they started advancing towards where he was selling to unblock the road. They shot in from the back. Everybody saw it,” he explained.
Greaves called on well-meaning human rights lawyers and organizations to help him seek justice for the death of his son.
“The police want to take advantage of us. None of the protestors had gun. Only the police had guns and they fired. But now, they’re making it seem like they didn’t shoot. This is why we need human right lawyers to come in and help us. We need justice,” he said.
Ms. Patricia Flomo, a resident of the Kingsville told reporters she witnessed the police shooting at 17-year-old who was only running because he saw others fleeing.
She explained: “I was right here, when the PSU people started shooting we all decided to run, he was sitting down roasting corn so when the [police] man was coming he decided to run, while running the man decided to fire at his back at his head, that’s how he fell. When he fell; when he fell, we all ran on the other side, then the other PSU man fired the boy on his foot. The boy that was shot on his head died on the spot.”
Monday’s riot and shooting incident claimed the attention of the United States Embassy in Monrovia which issued an alert to its staff and citizens to avoid area.
Meanwhile, the Liberia National Police has launched an immediate joint investigation comprising the Professional Standards Division (PSD) and the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to probe into reports of shooting.
“The public can be assured that any officer found culpable in the unconventional use of lethal weapon will be made to face the full weight of the law,” the police said.
The police have in recent time received commendations for professionally dispersing crowds during protests.
In addition to recent June 7 Save the State mass demonstration and the #BringBackOurMoney, the Liberia National Police have handled several other protests in various communities in Monrovia.