The Minister of Justice, Benedict Sannoh, has announced that the investigation of the Red Light incident indicated that police officer Wesley Weah and three civilians: Emmanuel Howard, Roland Julue and Bryant Dean, are responsible directly or indirectly for the death of bike rider Alfred Tarnue.
Min. Sannoh, who is also the Attorney General of Liberia, disclosed yesterday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, that police officer Weah was not in uniform at the time of the incident and he was not assigned at the location where the incident started.
Officer Weah was not under orders from any superior officer to engage in the conduct that led to the death of Alfred Tarnue, Min. Sannoh noted.
“The police officer acted in a manner unbecoming of a police officer, and by so doing, he undermined the integrity of the Liberia National Police (LNP), and violated the very laws of Liberia that he is charged with the responsibility to maintain,” Min. Sannoh charged.
He said the investigating committee reported that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the LNP interfered with and frustrated its investigating team through acts of intimidation of potential witnesses, a conduct unacceptable and which “will not be condoned.”
“With respect to the case in Thinkers Village, I want to inform you that all the necessary procedures consistent with military justice have been taken and fulfilled, and that Corporal Winn K. Gender, of the AFL has been disrobed and will be turned over…to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution on the charge of murder,” he said.
Min. Sannoh explained that the autopsy findings confirmed that the late Tarnue sustained and suffered death as a result of a blunt injury to the right side of his head and strangulation. The autopsy also showed that there was a bruise on the right side of Tarnue’s neck, which suggested that considerable pressure was exerted to that side of his body from external forces, resulting in compression on his jugular vein.
“The autopsy report concluded that the death of Mr. Tarnue is unnatural,” Min. Sannoh declared.
He said that based on the autopsy report and findings from the investigation team, the three civilians involved must be arrested and taken into custody for further criminal investigation and prosecution consistent with law.
“We have taken these actions today to send a clear message to all our citizens and residents, including the officers of security agencies that this country, Liberia, is and must remain a country of laws and not of men. The police in particular must respect the law and carry out their policing with respect for the fundamental freedoms of our people,” Min. Sannoh emphasized.
Min. Sannoh lifted the suspension imposed on motorbike riders in Paynesville and its environs following the April 16 incident, but said it would be subject to the new policy which limits the riders to feeder roads only.
He said the suspension of motorbike routes was announced to help the special committee in its investigation of the incident and secure the corridor of peace and tranquility within the affected areas.
He added that the government has exerted all efforts to deal with the situation of bike riders in a responsible and pragmatic manner, taking into consideration the security, economic, social and the political implications.