You may have seen the video of the West Hills Mall incident that has dominated the news. Yes, a crowd is gathering around someone on the floor in handcuffs. He turns briefly and stops.
He seems lifeless. The cuffs are quickly removed. Management of the Mall said their security ensured he was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival that afternoon of 30th of January 2023.
The sister of 32-year-old Shadrach Arloo and some “eyewitnesses” blame police for using a taser on him, struggling with him or beating him to death. Shadrach, according to managers of the Mall, refused to allow a search of his bag suspected to contain narcotics.
He resisted arrest, struggled with security and is captured on CCTV picking something from his bag and swallowing it, the managers report.
The police urged calm and assured of thorough investigations. February 7, that’s eight days later, they issued a statement detailing what seemed a painstaking process, compliant with high professional standards in conducting the autopsy.
A number of MPs (one of them a lawyer for the family) do not deny agreeing to or observing what appears a very transparent process. I put up a post commending the collaborative or consensual and transparent medical examination process and admonished that it was best practice for people to be hesitant to take sides and speak in absolute terms about issues without the benefit of both sides of the coin.
In the shortest time, most commentators on my Facebook wall doubted the police account.
I even got calls from professionals who have dealt with the police expressing the belief that the cannabis said to have been found in Shadrach’s throat – the cause of his death, must have been planted by the police.
His sister and lawyer are demanding an independent examination that takes into account the other circumstances including the effect of the alleged use of a taser on him. The level of general mistrust for the police even in this report that sounds reasonably believable must be of great concern.
People have true stories about unscrupulous police officers planting drugs on them to extort money. In October 2019, the police service warned officers against the conduct.
Recently, a supposed cabbie was exposed for lying about such an incident to damage the image of the police. But these stories are easily believable generally because of unconstitutional, unlawful and corrupt police conduct that go unpunished.
In 2018, the Justice Koomson Committee indicted some twenty-one police officers for framing seven people they killed in Manso-Nkwanta, Asawase in the Ashanti region, as armed robbers.
The families were given GHC 250,000 each with a firm promise by authorities including the President that the officers will be prosecuted. This has not happened despite MP for the area, Muntaka Mubarak, raising the issue in Parliament and seeking justice.
An MP sat on live TV, his TV Station, publicly threatened Erastus Asare-Donkor and asked that he be beaten.
His crime was that he did bold journalism in capturing on tape and exposing the shooting of youth in Ejura who were protesting what seemed obvious politically motivated murder of #FixTheCountry activist in the community, Macho Kaaka. A complaint was lodged with police in July 2021.
They issued a statement promising to investigate it, but not a word has been heard since. I dare say absolutely nothing has been done.
There are several such, and incidents of police misconduct, not the so-called ordinary incidents, but so-called high-profile once and very little or nothing is head about disciplinary or legal action, and you wonder what impression they think they leave in the public’s eye.
This is not fair to the many police officers who are honest and conduct their affairs to the rule and professionally.
Everything must be done to change this perception because a society that cannot trust the police creates fertile grounds for crime and criminal conduct to thrive.
Our individual and collective security is compromised if deliberate action is not taken quickly to change this narrative. The police ought, truly, to be our friends.
But on this West Hills Mall incident, it should be useful to show the video of the guy allegedly swallowing the eight zipped bags of cannabis to put the matter of the cause of death to rest.
It may also be useful to let the accused police and private security officers face prosecution to see if the eggshell skull rule or as we say it, “you take your victim as you find them” principle of law will apply. It works like this: Kofi slaps Ama, who suffers sickle cell disease and is usually weak.
Ama goes into a coma and later dies. Kofi cannot say, when charged with the offence of murder, that Ama wouldn’t have died were she not ill and that the sickle cell disease is to blame for her death.
When asked what caused her death, Kofi’s slap will be the cause and not sickle cell disease. Kofi would have to take his victim, Ama, as he found her. Dear IGP Akuffo Dampare, you have shown much promise.
But please do not tell us about initiating service enquiry when officers are accused of criminal conduct. What killed Shadrach? Asphyxiation by swallowing cannabis or positional asphyxiation caused by taser or both? And that, is My Take.
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