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THREE KILLED BY POLICE

Autopsy shows third victim of Lessos protest was shot

Police had earlier claimed hed died after falling from a flag post outside the police station during the skirmishes.

In Summary

• Leaders from the region expect little justice claiming the statement earlier released by the police corporate affairs department exonerated the officer who killed Tirop.

• Second and third victim shot while protesting shooting of disabled shoe cobbler. 

Lazarus Tirop, a cobbler, was the first to be shot and died at Lessos police brutality
SHOT: Lazarus Tirop, a cobbler, was the first to be shot and died at Lessos police brutality
Image: BARRY SALIL
Timothy Chebwai, 25, died at Lessos, shot by police
KILLED: Timothy Chebwai, 25, died at Lessos, shot by police
Image: BARRY SALIL

The three people killed at Lessos police skirmishes died from bullets fired at them.

A postmortem carried on the three bodies at the Nandi Hills Hospital mortuary confirmed fears the third person was also shot by police.

The trio, Lazarus Tirop, 39, Tomothy Chebwai, 25, and Cornelius Kogei, 23, were shot while protesting the killing of a shoe cobbler.

 

Government pathologist Dr Dickson Mchana, assisted by Dr Joseph Kangor representing Nandi county government, also recovered a bullet from Kogei’s body.

Police had earlier claimed Kogei had died after falling from a flag post outside the police station during the skirmishes.

However, a bullet was recovered in his neck and two exit points indicating the victim was shot three times.

Police had claimed responsibility for the deaths of Tirop and Chebwai giving a conflicting reasons for the killing in last week’s Thursday incident.

According to the report, police alleged that Tirop was a boda boda operator who attempted to grab a gun from an officer on duty while ferrying two passengers and not wearing a face mask.

Tirop was a cobbler and a person living with disability. He had gone to intervene after a boda boda operator was asked to pay Sh50 bribe to the officer which the operator declined.

The officer grabbed a gun from his colleague and shot at the cobbler’s mouth, with the bullet exiting at the back of his head killing him instantly.  

 

The second victim, Chebwai, a plumber at Lessos, was also shot in the face. Pathologists recorded a single exit at the back of the head forcing all the brain membrane out.

Police had admitted shooting the victim claiming he wanted to set on fire the stations armory.

On Tuesday, the families said their lives had been shattered by the death of their loved ones in the hands of police officers who have since been transferred.

Newly-married Chebwai left behind an expectant widow, Eunice, 19.

“Our son was full of life and was taking care of his ailing father Mzee Kiprop Chebwai and another sick brother with his little plumbing contracts he got from residents of Lessos,” Paul Keino said.

His mother Dorcas Koech, uncontrollably shed tears, saying she had accompanied her son for a dowry negotiation at the neighbouring village seeking to get a wife.

“My son completed Sigilai youth polytechnic after taking a course on plumbing, he had just started focusing on his own future and we hoped things could change for the better here,” Koech said.

Eunice was short of words.

Tirop, 39, a person living with disability with chronic limbs infection, was struggling to put food on the table for his four daughters from the proceeds of his cobbler-cum-shoe shining business.

His widow, 32, cried as she recalled the day her husband left the house at 7am for his normal businesses.

“He told me to go and collect money to buy lunch and supper for our family, around 11.30am. He left the house for a walk to where he operates a stall for his work,” she said.

“As I approached the health centre (Lessos), I heard gunfire and wailing from residents…I stopped then continued but someone shouted Tirop has been killed.”

Tirop left behind four children aged between four and 12.

The incident attracted national and international outrage including Amnesty International who demanded proper investigations and government action over rogue police.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Edward Mbugua who led a high-powered police team to Lessos, while transferring the officers out of the rift valley region, promised action.

He was accompanied by Mohammed Amin, a director of internal affairs within the National Police Service currently piecing together evidence from the public.

Leaders from the region expect little justice claiming the statement earlier released by the police corporate affairs department exonerated the officer who killed Tirop.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and Lessos ward county representative Emmanuel Mengech want the officer who had been assigned the AK47, and who handed it to his colleague to kill the first victim, charged.

“This is a technicality, the officer who was assigned with the firearm be charged with being an accomplice in the murder because he handed his gun to the now suspected murderer,” Sang said.

Mengech wants the statement issued by police head of corporate affairs department, Charles Owino be retracted from assertion that the Vitim (Tirop) was a boda boda rider and that he wanted to grab the firearm.

“If it’s not done, it means the victim who is a person living with disability stands condemned yet he had never ridden a motor bike due to his disability,”  Mengech says.

Edited by R.Wamochie 

Eunice, widow of Lazarus Tirop with her children at Lessos
GRIEF: Eunice, widow of Lazarus Tirop with her children at Lessos
Image: BARRY SALIL