The Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet has defended police officers who reportedly opened fire on locals in Trans Nzoia, leaving five dead and several others injured.
The shooting took place at Kolongolo village at about 4 pm on Sunday when two police officers based at Kolongolo Petrol Base responded to reports of a domestic dispute.
In a press statement released on Monday, IG Boinnet said when the officers reached the home in question, a scuffle ensued as the suspect, identified as Dan Juma, resisted arrest.
Boinnet added that members of the public — numbering to around 100 — joined in the scuffle and attempted to forcibly rescue the suspect.
One of the officers then reportedly fired in the air to disperse the rowdy crowd and during the melee, the already handcuffed suspect fled.
“The crowd then descended on the two police officers with stones and other projectiles, hitting the officer who was armed to the ground, while they attempted to snatch his rifle from him,” reads the statement issued by police spokesperson Charles Owino.
“This prompted the officer to open fire fatally injuring two male adults, and they got a chance to escape to the patrol base.”
Reports indicate the three others succumbed to bullet injuries later in the day.
The IG further stated that the members of the public then regrouped and advanced towards the patrol base, forcing the officer in charge to call for reinforcement from the GSU Chepchoina Camp and Endebess Police Station.
“The irate mob then descended on the Police Landcruiser ferrying the GSU officers smashing the driver’s window and hitting the driver forcing him to lose control of the vehicle which landed in a ditch,” adds the statement.
“The crowd pelted the officers with stones as they tried to protect the vehicle from being torched. The crowd also smashed the windscreen of two other police vehicles one from Endebess Police Station and another from the Scenes of Crime Unit that had responded to the distress call from Kolongolo Patrol Base.”
Boinnet noted that there has been a rise in cases of the public assaulting officers in the line of duty, adding that attempting to forcibly release a suspect from the police is a serious offence that will call for the use of necessary force “as the law demands.”
He urged citizens to use legal mechanisms in addressing any kind of complaints should anyone feel that the police have acted inappropriately in the line of duty.
IG Boinnet further called on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to carry out investigations.
In its statement on Monday, the IPOA said it had dispatched officers to collect key information as part of its probe.
The police officer who opened fire has since been arrested and taken to Kitale Police Station as investigations continue.