Kinjor, LEC Fatal Incidents Prompt Probes By: Yassah J. Wright


Montserrado County District 15 Representative Abu B. Kamara has given the Liberia National Police and the Management of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) seventy two hours ultimatum to swiftly investigate and prosecute all those in connection with the death of Mr. Josephus S. Tukpeh, a resident of the Caldwell Community. Mr. Tukpeh was allegedly murdered over the weekend by some members of the Power Theft Division of the LEC over alleged power theft.  According to members of the Joint Team comprising LNP and LEC, they observed that Mr. Tukpeh was engaged into power theft but he prevented the team from having access to his home to disconnect, something which resulted into conflict thereby leading to his subsequent unfortunate demise.  However,, speaking in an interview with journalists Saturday at the LNP Headquarters following a meeting with the LNP and LEC, Representative Kamara  said they demand justice, adding that it is the only thing that can make his district and people happy. He expressed frustration over the government‘s entities- LNP/LEC alleged disrespect towards the family and the district by taking the body of the deceased from the Stockton Creek Clinic without the concern and approval of the family.. “Based upon that, we are giving the joint team 72 hours ultimatum, if we don’t get redress, you will see what going to happen by the citizens. All we need is justice. We believe that his death was reckless, wicked and carless because they should have worked with the community leadership to do so,” he noted. For the Liberia Electricity Corporation, it has condemned violence which has resulted into a customer’s demise in Caldwell…  “The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) expresses deep regret and sadness over the tragic incident that occurred in the New Georgia Town Center, Caldwell, involving assigned police officers and our anti-power theft team, which resulted in the demise of one Mr. Josephus S. Tukpeh, a resident of the community,” the entity has indicated. The LEC, in a press release dated March 2, 2024 under the signature of its Management unequivocally denounced any form of violence and assured the public of its unwavering support to the police investigation to ensure that justice is served.  In response to this unfortunate event, the Liberia Electricity Corporation stated that it is collaborating with law enforcement authorities, who have launched an investigation to ascertain the facts surrounding the incident. The Management further pledged its fullest cooperation and support to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation. LEC stated that it immediately dispatched a team Friday evening, at 7:00 pm and met with the immediate family of the deceased, including parents and other relatives at the victim’s residence in Caldwell. “The management as well convened this morning at about I1:00 am with the entire family present, and will continue to engage with the family and all stakeholders to gather further information and offer support during this challenging time. With heartfelt sympathy, the management of LEC extends its deepest condolences to the bereaved family. The corporation assures the family of its unwavering support throughout the investigation process and during this period of mourning,” the entity noted… Meanwhile, Police Inspector General  Gregory Coleman at a press conference over the weekend expressed sadness over the situation, assuring that the LNP will do all it takes to bring the investigation to book as soon as possible. “About what occurred in Caldwell that led to the death of one life, we are also investigating every member that was on the Power Theft Team. They are here at the police headquarters undergoing investigation,” the IG disclosed.  According to him, they were able to have physical contact with the wife and other family members and they expressed their condolences and assured them that the investigation will be void of any interference and influence.  IG Coleman in another violence incident, confirmed that police discharged life bullets In Grand Cape Mount County Bea Mountain protest.  Commenting on whether the officers took instructions before discharging life bullets, he said police officers do not need order to discharge life bullet if their lives are being threatened, noting that  they were trained to shoot.  “Before officers are given firearms, they are trained on the usage. They are also trained on the use of force policy. They don’t need to call someone before discharging life bullet because they are trained to that as which point they should. They are trained to proportionality use force,” he indicated.  Police IG Coleman said police discharged life bullets which resulted to the dead of two persons.  “Yes, the LNP did discharge life rounds on the scene. Life bullets were discharged,. If you look at the video release, the police exercised maximum restraints; they did not reach to the point of using life rounds until there was a threat, danger and fear by the officers before reaching that point,” he justified.  According to him, officers were on the line crying after they have used the entire non-lethal weapon, 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 weapon. But, their leader failed to communicate with them and so the police discharged life bullets after the protesters began arrogant by burning down police station and engaging into other violence acts at which point the police officers discharged life bullets and used whatever they had. He indicated that wounds on the two deceased are consistent with the weapon and ammunition that police officers used, which gave the indication that the rounds could be rounds of police officers involved into the Kinjor issue.  IG Coleman also disclosed that officers that are involved in the shooting had been set-up, investigation is ongoing.  ” 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 in this incident as it relates to the death of two of our citizens. However, when that is concluded, we will be releasing it to the public. We will be very open and transparent about it,” he assured.  He again restated that it’s evidence that fire arms were discharged and anyone can go to JFK and see the wounds on the body and even the medical death report can be released which justified such.  IG Coleman pointed out that just as he is honest about the use of firearms and the wounds on the bodies, also, there are protesters in the video footage who had single barrel guns and one person was seen recharging with round. He said the actual deaths in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County  are three but two of those three are associated with the riot while the other one is between two members from the community when the other stab his friend; adding that the person is in police custody and they are investigating the policy in the use of force. According to him, they currently arrested twenty three persons, three females and twenty males who are undergoing investigation by the LNP at its headquarters in Monrovia. He also noted that the nine police officers who were wounded; seven have been released while two are still undergoing treatment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. IG Coleman noted that they have released vide footages from the Grand Cape Mount and Caldwell scene for the public to help with information also.  Meanwhile, IG Coleman assured that the situation in Grand Cape Mount County, Kinjor, has been restored by the LNP but they are still observing the situation According to him, there are other issues in the community that they are still concerned about between different community members who feel that they have been disenfranchised by other communities.

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