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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Police confirm 2 deaths in Bea Mountain protest

State security forces have faced repeated accusations of using brute force in protecting the gold mining company Bea Mountain has led to lawmakers voting to recall the army and the police deployed there over two years ago.  

By Lincoln G. Peters 

Monrovia, March 3, 2024: Police Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman has admitted that a live bullet was discharged by the police who were responding to a protest against the operation of commercial gold mining company Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC). 

The new police chief addressed a major press conference Saturday at the Liberia National Police (LNP) headquarters in Monrovia following the tragic incident in Grand Cape Mount County last week.

Mr. Coleman said the police discharged a live bullet which resulted in the deaths of two persons. 

“Yes, the LNP did discharge live round on the scene. The live round was discharged. If you look at the video released, the police exercised maximum restraint. They didn’t reach the point of using live round until there was a threat, danger feared by the officers before reaching that point,” Col. Coleman explained.

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 leaders of the county appealing to them to talk to the protesters to back off because the officers were out of non-lethal weapons.

But Coleman said the leaders failed to communicate with them and so the police discharged a live bullet.

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He indicated that the protesters had become arrogant by burning down the police station in the area and engaging in other violent acts at which point the police officers discharged live bullets and used whatever they had. 

He indicated that the wounds on the two deceased are consistent with the weapon and ammunition that police officers carry, indicating that the round could be from the police officers involved in the Kinjor issues. 

Col. Coleman disclosed that the investigation is ongoing, saying that transparency comes and starts from in. 

“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,” said Col. Coleman.

“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 stated that it was evidence that the firearm was discharged and anyone could go to JFK and see the wounds on the body.

Additionally, he noted that the medical death report can be released which justifies the use of firearms. 

Mr. Coleman pointed out that just as he is honest about the use of firearms and the wounds on the bodies, there are also 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 other one is between two members from the community when the other stabbed his friend,” he explained.

“That person is in police custody. We are investigating the policy in the use of force,” IG Coleman stated. 

He was asked whether the officers took instructions before discharging live bullets. In response, Col. Coleman said the police officers don’t nan eed order 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 a live bullet because they are trained to that, at which point they should. They are trained to the proportionality of force,” he added. 

According to IG Coleman, the police have arrested twenty-three persons comprising three females and twenty males. Col. Coleman said they are undergoing an investigation by the LNP at its headquarters in Monrovia. 

Further, Col. Coleman said the nine police officers who were wounded, seven had been released while two are still undergoing treatment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

According to Coleman, the police have released video footage from the Grand Cape Mount and Caldwell scenes for the public to help with information.  

Meanwhile, IG Coleman reported that the order has been restored in Grand Cape Mount County, Kinjor.

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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