Family of murdered Steve Paul seeks President Weah’s intervention as “the best guarantee against a compromised police that have resolved to sweep the case under the carpet.”
Family members of murdered Steve Paul have called on President George Weah to intervene in seeking justice by constituting an independent investigation body, because they believe that authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have been compromised.
Paul, 59, was allegedly beaten to death on November 8, 2018, by suspect Solomon Badio Giddings (at-large), at the deceased’s Camp Johnson Road office in Monrovia, an incident following which police charged Giddings with “negligent homicide” on grounds that Paul died as a result of “heart disease.”
The late Steve Paul, according to police investigation, died at the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Cooper Hospital following a fist fight with suspect Giddings in the aftermath of an argument that ensued between the two over a laptop keyboard.
In the melee that ensued as a result of the argument, police said Giddings struck Mr. Paul with a blow to the chest, causing the victim to go unconscious. Mr. Paul did not regain consciousness until he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The LNP’s purported investigative report was later rejected by Paul’s family, who has resolved to seek President Weah’s intervention by setting up an independent investigation team to conduct a “timely, credible, and transparent investigation.”
On Thursday, October 17, 2019, the victim’s brother, Alphonso B. Csaliyah, informed the Daily Observer that their request to the President aims to establish the alleged unprofessional investigation which authorities of the LNP conducted in order to establish the cause of Mr. Paul’s death.
“We are appealing to President Weah that the investigation should be carried out by a judicial or other competent authority void of the LNP; and be mandated to conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the circumstances and causes of Paul’s death,” Csaliyah pleaded with Weah.
“President Weah’s involvement is the best guarantee against a compromised police that have resolved to sweep the case under the carpet,” Csaliyah said.
On the exclusion of the police, Csaliyah said that the family took the decision because the police had earlier refused to hand over Paul’s body to the family for burial.
“Police failed to do so, instead, they wrote the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Services to release the body to the family after 11 months of delay in the case, which proved that the LNP is being compromised,” Mr. Csaliyah said.
An LNP letter under the signature of Police Inspector Abu B. Daramy, dated September 19, 2019, entitled, “Authorization for Release of Body,” and addressed to the Administration of the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Services, said the body had been held there, pending post mortem examination, but did not say when said examination would be conducted.
“The body of the late Steve Paul was deposited at your funeral home by his family members for preservation after he was pronounced dead at the SD Cooper Medical Hospital, subsequent to a fight that ensued at Camp Johnson Road on November 8, 2019, pending the conduct of a post mortem examination by Montserrado County Coroner,” the letter reads.
It continues: “The bereaved family has, however, expressed their desire in undertaking funeral arrangements for their deceased relative, which was granted by police authority. In view thereof, we do hereby request that you kindly release his mortal remains to Alphonso B. Csaliyah, brother of the deceased on behalf of the family.”
“This document shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority,” the letter concludes.
Also, a medical report from the SD Cooper Hospital and which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, signed by Dr. Whyllah B. Blojay (MD), attributed the cause of Paul’s death to “Cardio-Pulmonary Arrest (background of domestic violence)”, indicating that Paul died on account of Giddings’ attack.
To corroborate the medical report, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongle, a lead lawyer for the family, expressed the belief that Paul died as a result of Giddings’ punches in his chest, adding: “This case is not negligent homicide, because Paul’s death was not accidental.”
He expressed disappointment in the police for their refusal (then) to turn over the deceased’s body to the family, some of whom had come from abroad to bury their brother.
Details of the report say that Paul was rushed at the hospital emergency unit at the hour of 11:22 a.m., on account of a “sudden collapse as the result of a fight between Steve Paul and an unnamed individual, who hit Paul several times in his chest in his office,” Csaliyah said, challenging the police reversion of the incident.
“However, Paul was brought in gasping for air; difficulty breathing with unreadable vital signs from both digital and manual vital sign devices,” the medical report said.
During physical examination, Doctor Blojay said the patient was “unconscious, dyspeptic, with his hand held tightly to his chest and lying on his right lateral chest wall. Patient was immediately transferred to the ward for oxygen therapy and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation for which, despite all efforts, he died at 11:30 a.m.”
However, Dr. Blojay said that Paul was never treated at this “facility for any form of preexisting condition/ailment, and so there was no history of any pre-existing condition.”