High threat level made SWAT unit’s presence necessary – Police say after E’bo shooting death
By Isanella Patoir
Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie and Deputy Commissioner of Operation Clifton Hicken Wednesday afternoon said that the SWAT Unit’s presence was necessary during an anti-crime operation on the Essequibo Coast which resulted in the death of businessman, 29-year-old Orin Boston.
During a virtual press conference hosted from the Police Headquarters in Georgetown, Hoppie and Hicken along with Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum all insisted that the unit was working on intelligence provided to them.
The senior police officers, however, provided limited information on the operation and confirmed that nothing illegal was found at the businessman’s house nor was anyone arrested.
“We said the SWAT [were] required when the intel is telling us the threat is at a high level so intelligence will require that type of skill, yes…[With] the intel at the time, yes the SWAT was necessary,” Hicken said in response to questions from the media.
The SWAT team comprising one gazetted officer and eleven ranks were dispatched to Essequibo on Tuesday, hours before the operation began at 02:00hrs on Wednesday.
They were reportedly searching for prohibited items but none of the senior officers would say what those items were when questioned by reporters.
The Commissioner stated that nothing was found at Boston’s house. Boston’s house was the third to be searched during the operation on Tuesday night. The police said nothing was found at the two other houses.
However, a search in Onderneeming resulted in the arrest of two persons who were wanted for murder. But when reporters questioned what those murders were, the Crime Chief promised to release that information in a subsequent police blotter.
During the media briefing, it was revealed by the Top Cop that the rank who shot Boston during the alleged confrontation is under close arrest pending a thorough investigation. That investigation will be done by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) – an entity of retired police officers tasked with investigating police infractions.
Boston was reportedly shot to the upper left arm with a .223 caliber gun, but the Police Commissioner could not say whether any standard operating procedures were breached by the ranks. He asked the media to await the outcome of an investigation but could give no clear assurances that it will be swift and independent.
None of the ranks who were part of the operation was wearing body cameras.
“If there is any breach while conducting the operation it will be part of the recommendation coming out of the investigation,” the Commissioner stated.
Meanwhile, Blanhum confirmed that Boston was never prosecuted criminally by the police in the past although it is alleged that he had previous confrontations.
“A check is still ongoing at the criminal record office but based on information from the detectives in the region he was never prosecuted by the police,” the Crime Chief said.
Boston was shot about 04:40hrs at his Dartmouth Essequibo Coast home. His wife, Feona has alleged that he was shot while sleeping and that the ranks did not state why they were at their home.
Commissioner Hoppie promised that the widow’s claim will be investigated and said that “no stones will be left unturned” in the investigation.
Following the shooting of Boston, residents of Dartmouth began protesting and calling for justice. Protesters blocked the main access bridge along the road, preventing the free flow of traffic. It was earlier reported that firefighters were also prevented from getting access to extinguish the fire.
Police ranks remain on the ground monitoring the situation.