Two police officers have been sentenced to ten years imprisonment each for killing a woman in Rhamu, Mandera County.
The High Court in Garissa sentenced Constables Denis Langat and Kennedy Okuli for killing Abdia Omar Adan on November 10, 2018 while on a mission to arrest her son.
Lady Justice Abida Ali-Aroni, while passing the sentence noted that the Court weighed all relevant factors including that the action of the accused persons caused a major loss – death.
The Court also noted that while Section 205 of the Penal Code stipulates that offenders are liable to life imprisonment, the Court has discretion on the punishment.
The two officers were initially arraigned for murder but the court commuted the charge to manslaughter after considering the circumstances surrounding the shooting, including public mayhem that occurred during the incident.
The investigations, conducted by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), revealed that Adan was shot dead during a raid at her home by officers from Rhamu police station during a mission to arrest her son who the police had cited for dealing in bhang.
The sentencing brings to an end the gruelling search for justice following the fatal shooting.
A post-mortem examination report produced in court showed Adan died of excessive bleeding after a bullet fired at close range shot through her lungs.
The bullet went through the neck and exited on the woman’s back.
On the fateful day, the officers left their station for the woman’s home with the intention of arresting her son who they had cited for dealing in bhang.
The court heard that the son fled the homestead and a tussle ensued between the officers and the boy’s mother. The scuffle attracted the attention of the neighbours and passers-by.
Besides the fatality, an officer sustained a bullet wound in the thigh which he told the court was inflicted after a shot was fired from an agitated crowd that responded to the police operation.
The Court dismissed the claim and on the contrary relied on IPOA’s investigations that established the officers “were the only armed persons at the scene during the incident and that the accused shot himself in the botched operation.”
A witness also told the Court that the officer shot himself but the officers maintained they were acting in self-defence.
“Contrarily, the accused persons stated that they were accosted by an armed crowd at the deceased’s compound and that a commotion ensued as they were trying to arrest the deceased’s son which led to both the deceased and the accused (officer) being shot
“The accused persons raised the issue of self-defence. I find that this is an attempt at a mere cover up by the accused persons as there is no evidence pointing to the presence of any other armed person(s) at the scene of crime apart from them,” the judgement states.
The sentencing of the officers came just a day after five police officers were arrested and charged with the murder of a man in Kochia, Homabay county in September 2017
Investigations by the IPOA revealed that the officers on September 17, 2017 raided the home to arrest Sylvanus Oree Owinji on suspicion of dealing in bhang.
There was an altercation that led to serious injury of the victim who was pronounced dead the following day.
“Owinji was pronounced dead the following day at Homa Bay Referral Hospital where he was transferred after the duty officer at Rangwe police station declined to place him in custody due to the injuries he had suffered
“During the arrest, the police officers used force and consequently Owinji sustained injuries which a pathologist determined to be the cause of death,” IPOA chairperson Ann Makori said.