• Witnesses say man landed on his head after officers threw him in their van
• Residents urge Ipoa to investigate, complain of rampant police brutality
Witnesses and workmates of a 39-year-old man who was allegedly beaten to death by police officers on Saturday have refuted claims he was assaulted by members of the public.
Isiolo subcounty police commander Moses Owiti had said citizens came to the aid of four police officers after they were overpowered while arresting the man.
Owiti on Wednesday issued a press statement denying any culpability by the four officers who were on a mission to arrest Patrick Gitonga following accusations he threatened to kill one complainant.
In the statement, Owiti said Gitonga turned violent and injured one officer using a stone, forcing the others to sound an alarm which was answered by members of the public who assaulted Gitonga.
Gitonga was then taken to Isiolo police cells where he complained of pain, Owiti said. He was taken to Isiolo County Referral Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries shortly after arrival.
Gitonga's workmates and members of the public who witnessed the scuffle have, however, dismissed the police boss' statement, insisting the four officers should bear full responsibility for the death.
Members of the Nyara Youth Group who delivered building materials with Gitonga said the officers beat the victim as he cried for help.
Moses Koome said they could never attack one of their own.
He said police brutality in Isiolo has been on the increase.
“He was beaten severely. He, at one time, asked for water and one of us volunteered to give him, but he was threatened and he was forced to go back,” he said.
They called upon the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate the matter and ensure justice for the bereaved family.
The youths accused the police boss of trying to cover up the killing committed by his officers by implicating innocent members of the public.
Stephen Kalawa said he witnessed Gitonga being tortured.
“Police even shot in the air to scare away residents at around 9am. They had locked him in a cube where they beat him severely as they took him away in a police van,” Kalawa said.
Kalawa said one of the residents was even threatened at gunpoint when he tried to intervene.
Boda boda operator Ben Karithi said he was riding when he heard a gunshot and stopped. He saw three people in a scuffle with Gitonga and learnt that they were police officers trying to arrest him.
“One man approached him and told him to take his bike away from there or he would face consequences. The two continued to beat him as the third called for back up. Soon, a vehicle from Kula Mawe arrived and a second from Isiolo police headquarters," Karithi said.
"They threw him in like a sack of potatoes. He landed on his head but they kept beating him."
They continued beating him as they closely followed the vehicle, he said. Gitonga wailed loudly attracting curious onlookers.
"I later learnt that he had succumbed to the injuries."
Edited by R.Wamochie