Guyana Chronicle – In Guyana a twenty-eight-year- old Police Constable Antonio Dawson who was attached to the Impact Base at Brickdam died Friday afternoon at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) while undergoing surgery to save his life. The rank was stabbed several times about the body yesterday morning at Houston, East Bank Demerara in the vicinity of the Gafoors Complex while attempting to arrest a man who later stabbed himself to the chest and slashed his throat.
Late Friday evening, the suspect was positively identified at the hospital morgue my relatives. He was identified as 41-year-old Samuel Fredrick Adams, also known as Fredo Thomas Junior. The man’s address was given as Lot 47 Buxton Railway Embankment, East Coast Demerara. He was also charged in 2005 for robbery under arms.
According to information reaching the Guyana Chronicle, Dawson and a group of other policemen were on patrol in Agricola when they responded to a call for back-up from members of the marine wing of the force, who were initially pursuing the suspect.
The marine ranks approached the scene from the Demerara River and as they pursued the suspect, he headed in an easterly direction. Ranks on the mobile patrol however used the main East Bank Demerara carriageway and headed west into the street in which the Gafoors Complex is located.
After seeing the patrol approaching, the suspect began to empty his pockets and also tucked his hands under his jersey.
That caused the policemen to advance towards him with caution, but after it was realised that the man was carrying a knife, Dawson offered to surrender his rifle to one of his colleagues as he sought to negotiate with the suspect to hand over his knife and surrender himself for a search.
It was during that period that Dawson was stabbed several times about the body, including in the region of the neck, chest and abdomen. The other members of the patrol apparently were not aware that their colleague was being stabbed, although it was clear that he was having a struggle with the suspect.
It was only after Dawson-who was not wearing a bulletproof vest at the time- fell to the ground that ranks became aware that he was stabbed. At that point, the suspect reportedly stabbed himself to chest and then slashed his throat as he remarked: “Oh you want dead on me, well I gone dead too.”
However, persons in the area told the police who are investigating the matter that Constable Dawson did not receiving the support of his colleagues as he attempted to arrest the man.
This publication was told that while Dawson tried to negotiate with the suspect, his colleagues were sitting in the police patrol vehicle without offering any form of assistance. It was only after he fell that they attempted to assist him and arrest the suspect, but it was too late.
Dead On Arrival
Both men were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where the suspect was pronounced dead on arrival, while Constable Dawson was stabilised in the Accident and Emergence Unit before he was sent to the operating theatre where he succumbed.
On Friday, the Guyana Police Force in a press statement confirmed that the police marine wing did respond first to the information that there was someone at the Houston Fishing Wharf who was acting in a suspicious manner.
The police would later find out that the items which the man was emptying from his pocket as the ranks approached him were a quantity of cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. The police were also able to recover the knife that was used by the suspect to kill Constable Dawson and himself.
Meanwhile, at the Georgetown Public Hospital the scene was a sorrowful one as several junior and senior ranks were there to get word on the condition of their co-worker. Relatives of the dead man including his siblings who are members of the Guyana Police Force were also there.
‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken who spoke with the media at the hospital said standard operating procedures were followed in the way the now deceased rank handled the situation, pointing out that he was not required to confront the suspect with a rifle since the man was carrying a knife.
Hicken told the media that Constable Dawson, who was still alive at the time of the interview was one of the frontline crime fighters of the force.
Later Friday afternoon, relatives of the dead police officer met with the Commander at his Brickdam office. Pastors from the First Assembly of God Church, Wortmanville, were also present to offer words of comfort to them.
Father of Two
Constable Antonio Dawson was a father of two children, ages 3 and 1. He joined the Guyana Police Force some two years ago, following the footsteps of his siblings who are all still serving the force except for one who was fired after he had shot a suspect in the leg.
Commissioner of Police (CoP) Seelall Persaud, Commander Clifton Hicken, Senior Superintendent Maxine Graham, Senior Superintendent Steven Mansell and Superintendent Saul visited the 100 Murphy Street, Wales, West Bank Demerara home of the fallen police officer.
There they met with his parents Yvonne Dawson and Neville Dawson, along with other siblings and relatives.
It was during that meeting that the Commissioner of Police was told by Dawson’s father what may have been the reason for his son not wanting to use force against the suspect; and why he might not have used force against the suspect even if he, the rank, was carrying a side arm.
According to Neville Dawson, one of his sons was fired from the GPF because he had shot a suspect in the leg while attempting an arrest. The man said that his now dead son did not want to suffer the fate as his brother and that is why he had handed over his weapon to his colleagues.
The dismissed son was also jailed for eight years, but family members moved quickly to appeal the decision and that former policeman is now on High Court bail.
Meanwhile, there are now questions surfacing on the availability of adequate protective vests for the police ranks, especially those working on patrols. At the time of the incident, Constable Dawson was not wearing a vest and there are claims that had he been wearing one, the metal plate might have prevented him from meeting such a gruesome and untimely death.
The Guyana Chronicle was told that the force is in dire need of bulletproof vests. This newspaper understands that at in particular section of the force where ranks are always on the road and engaging potentially dangerous persons, there are only six vests for in excess of 20 ranks.
Yesterday, in addition to the ranks who were present but failed to go to the aid of their colleague, there were several other persons who were in the vicinity of the Gafoors Complex who saw the policeman encountering difficulty but were more interested in setting their mobile phone cameras on ready to record the possible use of force by the police against the suspect.
Speaking about the incident, Persaud said the visit to the home of the Dawsons was one of the hardest things he has had to do as Commissioner of Police, since he began serving the GPF.
A pastor who also visited the home of Constable Dawson said the effort of the fallen policeman was not done only in the interest of the GPF, but the entire Guyanese society but unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price.
He said the culture will continue as it relates to benefits and other assistance that are provided to relatives of fallen ranks. According to Commissioner Persaud, counselling has already started for the ranks who were with Dawson on the patrol.