Police are denying a statement by a 17-year-old boy who claimed he was burnt while in their custody even as the acting top cop warned that stern action would be taken against any member who on their own deviated from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) standard operating procedures (SOP).
The 17-year-old fisherman, identified as Jahiem Peters, was reportedly in police custody assisting in an investigation into an alleged armed robbery.
He said one of the investigators lit him afire but the GPF maintains he was playing with a lighter when the incident occurred.
The police said that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is “investigating the matter.”
In a video released by a member of the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the teenager accused a policeman of burning him and then being beaten to state that he was responsible for his burns”,
In the video, the teenager says he had informed the police officer he had no knowledge of the robbery but that he did not believe him and started beating him.
He said when he was burnt, he was told to inform the ambulance personnel that he burnt himself.
But in a statement late Sunday night, the GPF said that the teenager had been in custody and had been placed in a cell by himself.
“Screams where heard coming from the lockups and when a rank made checks, he observed the jersey that the teenager was wearing was on fire. The EMT from Melanie Fire Station was summoned and Peters was treated. He was questioned and related to the police that he was given a lighter by another person who was in custody (on the bench), and he lit same and was playing with it and his jersey caught afire,” the GPF said in a statement.
The police said statements were taken from persons who were at the station and witnessed when the incident occurred.
In a separate statement, acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken, said action would be taken against police officers who on their own deviate from the force’s standard operating procedures and break the law.
““If any rank is found to have breached the SOPs then regulations will be enforced and/or if any rank act independently outside of the law, then that rank will be dealt with condignly and face the full brunt of the law,” he said.
Peters is a patient of the Georgetown Public Hospital where he is being treated for burns to his body.
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