Policeman shoots man in row over face mask
A 23-year-old sound mechanic is recuperating in a hospital after being shot in the leg by a police officer guarding a bank in Nkubu, Meru County.
Mr Pharis Karani Gatobu suffered a shattered left tibia-fibula about 40 metres from the Solution Sacco branch when an Administration Police officer shot at him.
He underwent surgery at Consolata Mission Hospital in Nkubu. Speaking from his bed, Mr Gatobu said he had gone to the sacco to open an account but was turned back because he did not have a face mask.
After buying one, he went back to the sacco offices, but the officer, identified as Constable Roy Muchiri, allegedly demanded a bribe, threatening to arrest him for not wearing a mask.
Local Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) boss Robert Kabetu, who was monitoring bank guard duties, witnessed the confrontation and enquired if all was well.
According to a police report seen by the Nation, Mr Muchiri allegedly informed his boss that there was no problem and that he and Mr Gatobu were just talking.
But as Mr Kabetu left the site, he heard noise from the direction of the sacco and found Mr Gatobu limping, having been shot in the left ankle by Mr Muchiri.
Police had a difficult time restraining irate boda boda riders who wanted to lynch the officer, who was whisked away and taken to the Nkubu Police Station.
“We helped rescue him because we were concerned that a pandemonium would occur and people would be shot,” said a person who witnessed the Tuesday incident.
“We were aware that police officers guarding financial institutions are usually armed with maximum rounds of ammunition.”
The officer was disarmed and his AK-47 rifle with 29 rounds of ammunition placed in the armoury as evidence.
Imenti South police boss William Maronga said Mr Gatobu had slapped Mr Muchiri after being ordered to leave the vicinity of the sacco offices.
He said the officer had become suspicious of Mr Karani because he had been loitering around the sacco offices and could not explain what he was up to.
Mr Maronga said the officer shot the man as the two struggled in the middle of the road in a bid to save him from being run over by a lorry.
His distraught relatives protested the shooting, saying their relative was innocent and had never engaged in crime.
“My son was earning an honest living as a sound technician and had no grudge with anyone,” said his father Mr James Gatobu Kiugu.
“We were shocked to see a police officer shoot him for no reason. I don’t know whether there is a law allowing police to act like that.”
Dr Odongo Ochieng said Mr Gatobu underwent surgery and was out of danger but needed observation because his bone had been fractured.
“We have placed a metal plate to help in the healing process. The healing will take quite some time but we are hopeful that it will heal fully,” he said.