One week after Essequibo businessman, 29-year-old Orin Boston was shot dead during an anti-crime operation by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit at his Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast house, President Irfaan Ali has committed his government’s support for a thorough and impartial investigation.
The President left Guyana two days after the incident on September 15 and has been engaged on the international stage but said he intends to meet with the family of Boston upon his return to the country; he also plans to engage with residents of the community.
Dr. Ali offered his comments even as Boston is being laid to rest on Friday. “I have already made it clear that there would be an impartial investigation, the police would have to act professionally,” the President said.
Asked specifically by the News Room whether he would support the family’s call for an investigation independent of the police, Dr Ali, who was speaking during a virtual press conference from New York City, informed that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) must first be given an opportunity to do its work.
On Thursday, the police said that the file on the killing has been sent to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) for review but refused to answer the question as to whether the cop who did the actual shooting remains under close arrest or on the job.
“When I return I will get a full update on where the matter is but I will support a thorough investigation so let us await the outcome of the police investigation.
“Sometimes we move quickly to cast judgement or condemn the operations of the police. Let us see what comes out of the investigation and on my return, this is one of the matters of priority on my agenda,” Dr, Ali said.
The President said he will engage the family directly although his Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn has already visited the family. “Our philosophy is engagement and that is what we will do,” he added.
A post mortem examination found that Boston was shot to the chest and died as a result of hemorrhage and shock due to the gunshot injury.
Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie has promised a thorough investigation too and said that the SWAT UNIT was reportedly searching for prohibited items in the house although nothing illegal was found during the raids.
But the Opposition APNU+AFC has used the incident to claim that it is the start of a return of the era of extrajudicial killing under the People’s Progressive Party government.
Dr Ali dismissed it as propaganda saying that the claims have a false basis that was also exposed through a full publication in the Stabroek News.
“This has been proven that the narrative about extrajudicial killing was a disgusting narrative aimed at discrediting the PPP government. There is no factual basis and we have dismantled this.
“If you are starting from a foundation of lies you can’t return to a foundation of lies, there is no basis to responding to it,” the Head of State said.