The Minister of National Security the Hon Steadroy Benjamin has called for persons to provide evidence which would assist in an investigation concerning claims of gaseous fumes being used to disperse a crowd during last lap.
Patrons claimed that following the death of 25 years old Nikki Phillip who was crushed by a truck on Tuesday, members of the Antigua and Barbuda Royal Police Force lawmen used tear gas at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG), creating a visibly irritated crowd.
Speaking to ZDK News, Minister Benjamin said that based on an internal investigation which was carried out; no tear gas was issued from storeroom department to lawmen on that night. He added that if persons remain adamant that the fumes were in fact used, provide the evidence.
“I must state emphatically, that I have checked with the Police Force and to date there is no information of any police Officer on that day, at that occasion, at that time threw tear gas into the crowd. As a matter of fact, tear gas cartons are issued from storeroom departments and there is no whatsoever that any such item was issued form that department.
All I’m asking is that persons be responsible what they say and if in fact there is evidence, bring the evidence forward and appropriate action will be taken but neither the police command nor the police officer in charge of the particular area are aware of any such thing taking place.”
He added that nonetheless, a probe is underway to determine what transpired on the night of the incident but stood in solidarity with lawmen and the Minister of Festivals Chet Greene debunking the claims.
“Be that as it may, Police will conduct an investigation to determine what happened but until then I am supporting the Police Officers and the Minister of Carnival when they indicated that no police officer threw any tear gas into the crowd….that’s false”.
ZDK News received a number of reports that lawmen used tear gas unannounced; to force residents off the streets of the St. John’s following the accident.
Individuals could be seen visibly ill while others ran to escape dangerous fumes including mothers and their young babies.
While many residents quarreled that the use of the gaseous substance was too much, others have sided with lawmen, noting that it was needed to put an end to a string of altercations involving youngsters.