The reported death of 26-year-old remanded murder accused Winston Hinds, who was being held at the Timehri Prison and the circumstances surrounding his shooting, have raised many eyebrows and questions that to my mind, require answers. Based on what has been reported, particularly the statement of the shooting purportedly emanating from the Deputy Director of Prisons, Mr Gladwin Samuels and the information contained in a press release from the Department of Public Information (DPI), I wish to go on record here as stating that I have grave doubts about the reports from the authorities on what I will refer to here as another in the numerous atrocities that have occurred in Guyana’s prisons.
Subsequent to the killing of Hinds I made it my duty to read all the newspaper accounts, beginning with Kaieteur News, in order to develop a real understanding of what had taken place. In my perusal of the individual media house reports I noted consistency on those aspects of the incident that were of concern to me.
The public has been told by Mr Samuels (a) that Hinds and another prisoner were responsible for the fighting that took place among prisoners in the dormitory; and (b) officers intervened to restore order and in the process, Hinds “… darted past a prison officer and in a split second fled into the compound”.
In the DPI release Hinds was reported to have “fled into the prison yard in an attempt to escape. Clear and repeated efforts were issued for Hinds to desist, but he refused in every instance and continued running”. And, “Prison officers were left with no option but to curtail his escape. This necessitated the use of live rounds as a last resort, after every option had failed.” The prisoner was hit in the stomach/abdomen with a single round resulting in his death – end of story.
Let us, as reasonable citizens, examine in a non-prejudicial way, what we were told: (a) the prisoner ran out of the dormitory into the yard/compound, this action in the view of the officer or officers constituted an attempt to escape from prison. To my mind this seemed more like an attempt to escape from the officers in the building by running into the yard. Note, nowhere in the reports can be found a reference to an attempt by Hinds to scale the fence. If he had attempted to do so there would have been some justification for the officers to shoot at him. Since Hinds was not attempting to scale the fence in his alleged ‘attempt to escape’ it raises the question of the real intent of the officer or officers in the actions they took.
(b) A more troubling aspect of this incident is the fact that the prisoner was shot in the abdomen/stomach, which suggested that the shooter was facing the prisoner. Let me reiterate here that according to the report emanating from the authorities, Hinds was not shot from behind, which would be more consistent with the pursuit of a fleeing person. The obvious question is why was the prisoner not shot in the leg? Was the shooting the action of a rogue officer who decided that a ‘trouble-maker’ should be made an example of to prevent similar behaviour by other inmates? If this were the case it would be a worrying situation.
Editor, I will continue to pay close attention to the police investigation into this killing. I ask you to do the same.