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Family accuses police of beating kin to death

'The suspect became violent, resisted arrest and hit one officer on the head with a stone'

In Summary

• Lorry driver succumbed to injuries on Saturday after a scuffle with police officers

• Family wants the Independent Policing Oversight Authorityto take up the matter

Crime scene
Crime scene
Image: /THE STAR

Police in Isiolo have denied beating a 39-year-old lorry driver to death.

Patrick Gitonga succumbed to injuries on Saturday after a scuffle with police officers sent to arrest him for allegedly threatening to kill a person.

Gitonga's family and friends have accused the police officers of beating him to death instead of arresting and taking him to court.

But Isiolo subcounty police commander Moses Owiti said police did not beat Gitonga. He said on July 5, police received reports that Gitonga had threatened to kill a person whom he did not name for security reasons. 

“The following day, four police officers set out to arrest Gitonga. The suspect became violent, resisted arrest and hit one officer on the head with a stone. The officer fell unconscious," Owiti said.

He said the suspect overpowered the police officers, who raised the alarm and the public came to their rescue.

Members of the public used "necessary and reasonable force" to arrest Gitonga and hand him over to the police who took him to the cells, he said.

He was booked for threatening to kill, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

While in police cells, Gitonga complained he was unwell and was taken to Isiolo County Referral Hospital, where he died shortly after admission.

Gitonga was in robust health before his encounter with police officers, according to his friend Morris Mwirigi.

 
 
 

“This is a case of extrajudicial killing. After the death of Gitonga, unknown people using a white a pick-up raided his house in Timau and made away with items believed to be documents,” Mwirigi said.

Gitonga was a lorry driver from Timau in Meru. 

His uncle, Charles Muriithi, asked the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to take up the matter.

Owiti said the matter is being investigated by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. He thanked the public for assisting the police.

But family members said the investigations might not be conclusive.