Features — 10 January 2018
2017 ends with a bang …  of bullets!

Continued from page 40 of the Friday, January 5, 2018 of the Amandala

Police death squad?

It is one thing for us to face the reality that our men are “killing up” each other on the streets and that there is an uncontrollable level of rivalry and violence among these gangs, but it is something else to come to terms with the reality that now the police have likewise taken up arms against the very citizens they are supposed to protect. Then added to that fact is that now it’s a female that is being accused of pulling the trigger … that too is new, as in these violent crimes the accused have always been male!

The Fareed Ahmad case is not to be taken lightly, as it marks a turning point in the history of law enforcement and police credibility in this country. It has brought to light issues previously not being discussed, such as the creation of yet another paramilitary unit of the Police Department, in the form of the Special Assignment Team (SAT) which, unlike the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), was not unveiled with much fanfare. But interestingly, if you really take a close look and pull off the veil, it is just the GSU that was morphed into SAT to do the work of GSU, under another name, but amazingly, under the very same commander, Sr. Sup. Marco Vidal.

ACP Chester Williams, Commander, Professional Standards Branch: “The investigation has not unearthed anything to suggest that Mr. Fareed was under surveillance either by SAT or any other elements of the Police Department. The day in question, when he was searched on the twenty-first of December, they were searched at the corner of Vernon Street and the highway which was the area of responsibility for SAT.  So it’s not like to say, well the SAT actually left the area to go after him in another area.  It was within their area of patrol.  And I will say that Mr. Vidal has been very forthcoming, very cooperative with this investigation, as well as the other members of SAT.  Everything they’re asked for they provide and I have nothing to suggest that he or any member of his team are trying to hide anything where this investigation is concerned.”

Reporter: “So when they left to go to Hattieville they were going out of their jurisdiction, basically. Couldn’t a phone call have been placed?”

 ACP Chester Williams: “They did speak with the commander, Mr. Vidal, and he authorized them to have gone and he himself was ignorant to the fact that there was a shooting. He also thought that it was only a traffic accident, hence the reason he gave them the directive to go.”

Reporter: “How extensively have the SAT officers [been investigated] to rule out that there was absolutely no involvement and that she acted alone and it’s not as the family is accusing that there was, they used her to set up Fareed, basically?”

ACP Chester Williams: “Okay. All the vehicles assigned to SAT, as well as the other vehicles in Eastern Division, are equipped with GPS and the GPS monitors the movement of the vehicles by a timely manner. We have gone through the GPS of all the SAT vehicles and the GPS did not reveal any of them leaving Eastern Division, meaning Belize City, before or after Fareed’s death, except for one of them and that was the one that was found, that I met there the morning.  And based on the GPS reading, they had left that morning around, just after six, and they went to Hattieville.”

This interview I have seen leaves me with much to be concerned about. To start with, if the Commander SAT believed it was just a traffic accident, then why bother send members of such a specialized team out to the scene? Why allow members of the SAT to go outside of their jurisdiction, when Hattievile police already had that under cover? Did the Commander know who were the persons involved in the accident and that it was WPC Brown, a member of his unit? How could ACP Williams say with certainty that indeed Vidal was ignorant of the fact that there was a shooting, if, for Vidal to reveal that one tid-bit of knowledge to Williams would shed a whole new light on this investigation? Also, Vidal and his officers would know the vehicles have GPS, so none would be fool enough to use said vehicles to go kill Fareed… thus the SAT vehicles not being placed there by GPS, does not mean SAT officers could not have been there in another untraceable vehicle. What motive would WPC Brown have to act alone? What about other “private” vehicles reportedly at the scene? And what about those threatening texts, purportedly by SAT members, to the family of Fareed Ahmad now?

My final question: now how could we trust the police to investigate the police? This investigation cannot be done by any sitting police officer in the Police Department … it will always appear to be biased, questionable and self-serving. Also, any trained attorney worth their salt knows that when the renowned British jurist, Lord Hewart, coined the infamous phrase, “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”, he was talking about the appearances of bias and conflict of interest that can give appearances of injustice, even if that was not the case. This phrase is apt for the present situation and those in authority must heed and appoint an independent external investigator NOW!

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Deshawn Swasey

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