Unconscious body of assaulted colleague deposited at LBS gate to call public attention
Pandemonium broke loose late yesterday afternoon when scores of angry men besieged the main entrance to the compound of the state broadcaster, Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), blocking the main thoroughfare leading to the commercial district of Red-Light.
The local area youth were demanding justice for their friend, identified as Armah Barrie, who was allegedly killed by an officer of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
The entire LBS vicinity was overwhelmed by many of the youth, local community people and passersby as they expressed their anger over their friend’s death by setting up a roadblock at the LBS junction. The situation brought an abrupt halt to the normal commercial activities at the ELWA Junction and its surroundings as people were seen running helter-skelter, some already leaving the area because they were afraid of potential clash between the police and the angry mob.
The incident initially took place at a ghetto around the ELWA Junction, from where Armah Barrie’s unconscious body was carried by his friends and deposited at the entrance of the state broadcaster to call attention to his and their plight.
Barrie, believed to be in his early 40s, was alleged to have been brutalized to death by one Patrick Kormansu, reported to be the new head of the Zone 5 Police Depot located in the commercial district of Red Light.
Speaking to journalists, Marie Walker, a pregnant woman who said she was present at the ghetto where the alleged manhandling of her friend Barrie took place, attributed the incident to the officer’s disrespect for them.
“Patrick and the other officers came to raid the ghetto. After everyone ran away because the officers would assault us and take our belongings, the officers started burning the ghetto. Patrick asked Barrie for a box of matches to burn down the ghetto. After Barrie told him he does not have matches, Patrick struck him on the back of the head with a plank, right in front of us. That was when Barrie collapsed,” Walker said, adding that Patrick then emptied the pockets of the motionless Barrie.
Melvin Debah, who was also at the scene, confirmed that Barrie had refused to give the box of matches to officer Patrick, who he claimed wanted it to burn the ghetto where he and his friends pass time.
He claimed that when Barrie refused to give the matches to the officer to set the ghetto on fire, the officer got angry and smashed the back of Barrie’s head with a plank. He also confirmed Walker’s allegation that Kormansu emptied out Barrie’s pockets.
Later, Debah said he and his colleagues carried Barrie’s almost lifeless body to the main entrance of the LBS because they wanted the media to know what had happened to their friend.
Speaking to reporters at the LBS entrance, Deputy Inspector General for Operations at the Liberia National Police, Col. Abraham Kromah, said until a health center can pronounce Barrie dead after examination “it is unfair for anyone to say so.”
Kromah said he regretted the incident, adding, “We are saddened to see the loss of anyone’s life but it is not within our jurisdiction to determine whether the young man (Barrie) lying over there is dead. The John F. Kennedy Hospital authorities will be the right source to tell, not us or anyone else here.” He said after all the painstaking investigation and details are finalized, the public will get to know what will happen next.
Meanwhile, the angry mob consisting of Barrie’s friends, passersby and other community members demanded that officer Patrick Kormansu be handed over to them. They claimed that he intentionally struck Barrie and should be met with the same fate.
Kromah and a team of other police officers, however, protected Kormansu from being harmed by the angry mob, and barricaded themselves around him as they made their way out of the LBS vicinity and deposited him into a police vehicle that readily sped away.
Many onlookers expressed disappointment over the LNP operations against the influx of dangerous drugs in the country. “Police officers are also found in ghettos smoking and doing drugs as well,” an onlooker remarked.
Another called on the LNP to be lenient with young people who are unable to reason correctly because of the influence of drugs. “They deserve compassion from police officers who are trained to handle such a delicate people,” she said.
Barrie, dead or alive, was taken to the JFK Medical Center by LNP officers. Meanwhile, it was alleged by many of Barrie’s friends that this was the second such incident involving officer Patrick Kormansu, the first being a recent incident at a ghetto in Red Light where a young man reportedly died at his hands.