James Duma, the Liberia National Police (LNP) officer who shot and killed Mildred Tamba at a party in the 72nd community along the Japan Freeway (formerly Somalia Drive) on Saturday, June 27, appears to have had long-running temper problem that may have gone unreported or unchecked by his superiors who qualified him to carry a firearm.
A team leader at the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP), James Duma is well known in the 72nd community not because of his job as a police officer, but because of what many know to be his “boastful demeanor and quick temper in which he sometimes threatened to shoot people”. This is according to verbal accounts from multiple sources who claim to know him personally, including one who said he tried to advise him against such behavior.
Such temper got the worst of him on that fateful early Saturday morning when Duma, in a fit of anger, raised his side-arm and shot at Mildred Tamba, a friend of his girl-friend (unnamed).
Mildred Tamba was an up-and-coming market woman who sold plantain, sweet potatoes and other fresh produce at behind the poultry market building in Red Light. She was a mother and would celebrate her 37th birthday come September 14, 2020.
James Watkins, a cousin to an eye witness who the Daily Observer tried to reach to but to no avail, said his cousin told him that he was on the scene when the incident occurred and what he (Wakins’ cousin) saw was traumatic to the point that he is short of words to speak to anyone about it now.
“My cousin is not here. He has left Central Monrovia and might not be back any time soon,” Watkins told the Daily Observer. “But what I heard him telling me was that they attended the birthday party of a [young woman] said to be a friend to officer Duma’s lover and, when it was after midnight, Duma asked his girlfriend to follow him to his residence. However, his girl-friend declined.”
“I know Duma very well and so often I, too, have advised him to desist from making utterances that could lead him into trouble,” Watkins said. “I have also advised him against playing with gun recklessly whenever he is among people, but he has always boasted of being in control of his weapons.”
He said his cousin told him that from Officer Duma expressed that he suspected Mildred Tamba’s boyfriend attempting to convince his (Duma) girlfriend to not follow Duma home, a suspicion that greatly infuriated Duma.
“He said Duma and the guy were in a heated argument, at which point in time Duma accused the fellow (Mildred’s boyfriend) of trying to have a sexual affair with her.
“I was told that it was at that point in time Mildred Tamba, who was standing behind Officer Duma, interjected by asking him (Duma) to stop accusing her boyfriend of having any love affair with her friend. And that aggravated Duma more and led him to removing his pistol from his trousers’ back pocket to shoot in the air but sadly, his finger hit the trigger and Mildred got shot and was killed instantly,” Watkins said.
Chapter 1.2.3 of the LNP Duty Manual, which took effect April 1, 2008, says: “Members of the LNP shall remain courageous and composed in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; never losing sight of the need for legality, necessity, non-discrimination, proportionality and humanity.”
When asked about Duma’s temperamental behavior, LNP spokesman Carter told the Daily Observer that the investigation is still ongoing and that there is no indication so far that any such behavior was reported to the professional standards division of the LNP. According to Carter, any such report would have had to be made in writing and, if there were none, there probably would be no priors against Duma.
If any such record is on file against Officer Duma, the violation would be labeled Category ‘C’, which includes obscene conduct, harassment, intimidation and unnecessary display of firearms, according to the LNP Duty Manual. But on Saturday, Duma’s action reached the highest level of violation by a police officer — Category ‘D’ — unnecessary force and careless handling of firearms. For both Categories ‘C’ and ‘D’, disciplinary actions are within range of training, education, counseling, fitness for duty evaluation, transfer, restitution, written reprimand, up to 10 days suspension, demotion or termination.
However, it is expected that, following the investigation, Duma will be forwarded to court to stand trial for murder.
According to a press release from the Liberia National Police (LNP) said Officer Duma has been disrobed and detained, pending an investigation leading to his shooting of Mildred.
“The Liberia National Police with immediate effect has disrobed and turned over one of its officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), James Duma, ID, 2720, for investigation on account of allegedly shooting to death a female identified as Mildred Tamba at about 12 AM, June 27, 2020 around the View Point Business Center in the 72nd community,” the LNP release said. “The officer is currently in custody of the Liberia National Police. The deceased family and the public can be assured that justice will be served.
“Police Inspector General, Hon. Patrick Sudue, extends condolences to the family on behalf of the Liberia National Police and assures the public that no officer under his watch will commit a crime or act unprofessionally and go with impunity. IG Sudue has directed an immediate and timely investigation to ensure that justice is served,” the statement said.
In a new development, Inspector Sudue has told the family of the late Ms. Tamba that LNP is taking full responsibility for the funeral.
About the allegation that Montserrado County District #5 Representative, Thomas P. Fallah was the one who hosted the party, the Daily Observer reached out to the Lawmaker’s office via telephone and was informed by Fallah’s communication and public affairs officer that the information was false and ‘completely misleading.’
“I have known Duma for some time and as many other people who know him may tell you, he is a young officer who boasts and plays with gun always. We regret the loss of the life of Mildred but let it be clearly known out there that Hon. Fallah hosted no party for any reason,” Ernest G. Sharpe said via telephone.
Sharpe said while the LNP central office investigates the incident, people should avoid politicizing the incident.
“As a politician, Hon. Fallah’s skin is thick enough to take any challenge but facts are very necessary in helping our society move forward. Fallah knows that there is a State of Emergency and we are in a serious health crisis. Therefore, he is not going around having parties for or with people,” he further noted.
On his Facebook account, Representative Thomas P. Fallah wrote: “Like so many of you, I am hurt by the death of Mildred Tamba. She was a strong woman with great potential. Mildred didn’t deserve to die. This is why I have called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate her death. My office will monitor the investigation closely to ensure that justice is done.”
Fallah added: “Also, I want to clarify that I didn’t organize a party in defiance of the State of Emergency order. That rumor is simply baseless.”