A most unfortunate and tragic incident occurred at the Paynesville Red-Light commercial district Sunday night, when police commander Roosevelt Dehmie Kiidor fatally shot an unarmed motorcyclist, Beyan Lamin, as he allegedly resisted arrest.
Liberian police officers have long been appealing for arms to combat the criminal behavior of many, especially in the crime-infested commercial districts, most particularly Red-Light, in Paynesville, as well as Water Side and Duala. In order to help empower the police in fighting crime in these and other dangerous areas, the government relented and equipped some police officers with firearms and ammunition.
But this was not meant to cause police officers and other paramilitary personnel to become trigger-happy to the extent of injuring and even killing innocent citizens and residents.
When motorcyclist Beyan Lamin, fearing arrest by police Commander Kiido, decided to flee the scene, it was, yes, unfortunate; but that did not give the commander the right to kill him. In their story published in yesterday’s edition of the Daily Observer, Reporters Alvin Worzi and William Harmon said Lamin’s only offense was apparently that he was riding his bike beyond the regulated time of 10 p.m.
When bystanders suggested that Commander Kiidor seize Lamin’s bike, which would have forced him to report later to the police depot to answer questions and probably pay a fine to retrieve his bike, the commander refused. Fearing arrest, Lamin fled, at which point the police commander became trigger-happy. And instead of pursing Lamin on foot to stop him from fleeing, Commander Kiidor recklessly used his weapon and fatally shot Lamin.
We call on new Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue to take immediate and decisive action against Commander Kiidor by stripping him of his title, arresting and handing him over to the Justice Ministry for prosecution on the most appropriate charge. We do not know whether this could be considered a case of manslaughter or murder; but surely a most appropriate charge should be brought against him, as a deterrent to prevent trigger-happy police behavior in any and all circumstances.
Our police officers must learn to treat citizens and residents with respect and exercise restraint at all times in their interaction with the people. Our police should realize that they are serving in a new regime, that prides itself in operating a “pro-poor” agenda. This demands that all government functionaries, whether police, tax collectors, soldiers or any other law enforcement personnel, should treat the people with respect and deference and exercise great caution and restraint in the execution of their duties.
Motorcyclists are plying the streets to serve the poor, and these include students and other people who cannot afford their own motor vehicles to get them to hospitals or clinics, to school, to work, or to attend any other kinds of errands. The motorcyclists are not part of the wealthy class in our society; far from it, they are struggling to make a living while rendering a vital service just like the rest of the underprivileged in society. They, therefore, deserve respect from the rest of us, most especially our law enforcement officers.
Our motorcyclists have come a long way and are striving not to be as reckless as they used to be, and we all should appreciate that. The police surely deserve much of the credit for this. At the same time, the police must at all times maintain their self-respect by conducting themselves lawfully, with integrity and with the demeanor in which they are regarded by the public as friends, not enemies of the people.