Police Requests US Based Law Enforcement Experts -To Probe Protest at Bea Mountain

By Stephen G. Fellajuah

MONROVIA: The Inspector General of the Liberia National Police Col. Gregory Coleman has admitted the discharge of firearm by officers of the police during workers’ protest at the Bea Mountain Mining Company in Grand Cape Mount County, and informed the journalist that the LNP has requested the Association of Liberian Law Enforcement Professionals in the United States of America to take a second review of the use of force mandate of the police as it relates the incident that reportedly led to the death of two Citizens.

“We have asked the Association of Liberian Law Enforcement Professionals in the United States to also take a second review of our use of force policy, especially in this incident as it relates to the death of two of our Citizens”, Col. Coleman said.

Col. Coleman stated the LNP will be releasing the findings to the public, stressing that the process will be very open and transparent.

He confirmed the discharge of live bullets by officers of the Liberian National Police in the long standing protests against the operation of commercial gold mining company, the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC), which resulted in the death of two persons and another from clashes between community members. The Inspector General of the LNP spoke at a major press conference Saturday, March 2, 2024 at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police in Monrovia.

“Yes, the LNP did discharge live rounds on the scene. Live rounds were discharged. If you look at the video released, the police exercise maximum restraint, they didn’t reach to the point of using live rounds until there was a threat, danger and fear of attacks from protesters by the officers before reaching that point”, he said.

According to him, officers were on the line crying after they had used all the non-lethal weapons, and he placed phone calls to the senator and leader of the county appealing to them to talk to the protesters to back-off because the officers were out of non-lethal weapons.

But their leader failed to communicate with them and so the police discharged live bullets after the protest began by burning down the police station and engaging in other violence acts at which point the police officers discharged live bullets and used whatever they had, Col. Coleman explained .

He further indicated that wounds on the two deceased are consistent with the weapon,  and ammunition that police officers use which gave the indication that the round could be the round of police officers involved in the Kinjor issues.

Col. Coleman disclosed that a shooting team had been set-up, investigation is ongoing, saying that transparency comes and starts from within.

The police IG reiterated that it was evident that firearms were discharged and implores anyone contending otherwise to go to the JFK and see the wounds on the body, or even get the medical death report which he noted can justify such.

Col. Coleman pointed out that just as he is honest about the use of firearms and the wounds on the bodies, also, he is equally honest to say that there are protesters in the video footage who had single barrel guns and one person was seen recharging with a round.

“The actual death in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County is three but two of those three are associated with the riot while the others are between two members from the community when the other stabbed his friend. That person is in police custody as well. We are investigating the policy on the use of force by the Liberia National Police” IG Coleman stated.

Commenting on a question asked where the officers took instructions before discharging live bullets, he further lamented that, the police officers don’t need orders to discharge live bullets if their lives are being threatened.

“Before officers are given firearms, they are trained on the usage. They are also drilled on the use of force policy. They don’t need to call someone before discharging live bullets because they are trained to that as to which point they should,” he asserted, saying that they are trained to proportionality of force”.

He spoke of the arrest of twenty three persons, three females and twenty males who are undergoing investigation by the LNP at its headquarter in Monrovia, as he noted that of the nine police officers who were wounded, seven had been discharged, while two are still undergoing treatment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

At the same time, IG Coleman has also said that they have released video footage from the Grand Cape Mount and Caldwell scenes for the public to help with information from these areas, where deadly protests and a deadly anti-power theft situation have occurred.

Meanwhile, IG Coleman assured that order has been restored to Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County as there has been some sense of quietude, which the police authorities are still observing.

There are other issues in the communities that LNP is still concerned about between different community members who feel that they have been disenfranchised by other communities, Inspector General Coleman asserted.

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