Police boss to go free in shooting of unarmed Nyeri man

A senior police commander who shot an unarmed man in Nyeri last year will go free after the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the case.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A senior police commander who shot an unarmed man in Nyeri last year will go free after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrew the case.

The DPP had initially agreed with the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) that the officer was culpable for using excessive force.

The charges were dropped a few weeks after the DPP began processing a warrant of arrest against Commander Mohamed Alike, who heads the Nyeri County Critical Installation Police Unit and had ignored a court summons.

The Nation has learnt that prosecutors said they were “no longer interested” in pursuing the case. It is unclear why the DPP made the drastic turnaround.

In a bizarre turn of events, Ipoa wrote to Mr Nicholas Mwangi, who was shot four times by the police boss, informing him that the case had been dropped.

Ipoa investigations

The January 10 letter shows that the agency concluded its investigations and forwarded the file to the DPP for the police commander to be charged.

“The prosecution had concurred with the recommendations of our investigations and directed that the case be filed before court through file number; CR/288/2021,” the letter says.

As a result, Ipoa says that the court issued a summons to Mr Alike to appear before it for plea-taking.

But during the intended plea-taking hearing before Senior Principal Magistrate James Macharia on November 16, 2021, the letter says, prosecutors applied to withdraw the case.

Court documents show that on the same day, Mr Macharia issued a ruling withdrawing the lawsuit against Mr Alike.

In his decision, Mr Macharia said he considered the request made by prosecutor Alice Rugut, who sought to have the matter withdrawn under Section 87 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

That law allows a public prosecutor, with the consent of the court, at any time before judgment, to withdraw charges against an accused person.

In her application, Ms Rugut said the state no longer had any interest in the case.

Warrant of arrest

She also requested Magistrate Macharia to disregard an application for a warrant of arrest against the police officer that she had presented to the court that day.

Incidentally, during the morning court session, prosecutors had told the court that it would be applying for a warrant of arrest against the officer.

This was after the suspect failed to appear in court for plea-taking despite being summoned.

During the session, Ms Rugut said that she had issued a summons to the Central regional police commander’s office, informing the suspect about the case and asking him to appear in court.

“Since the accused is a senior police officer, all our communication to him about this suit had to go through the regional police commander of the Central region,” she had told the court.

Charge sheets produced in court that day showed that Mr Alike was to be charged with an offence of causing grievous harm.

The particulars of the offence were that on February 4, 2021 at 7.30pm, at a parking lot outside Standard Chartered Bank in Nyeri town, the officer confronted and shot Mr Mwangi in his leg using his private firearm.

Face criminal charges

Ipoa had taken 10 months to complete its investigations before recommending to the DPP that the suspect face criminal charges.

Mr Mwangi, a technician working for Stema Engineering Ltd, was returning at about 8pm to Standard Chartered Bank, where the company had been doing some work.

He was servicing a generator and the work was being done throughout the night.

Mr Mwangi arrived on a motorcycle after having supper at a local restaurant. Commander Alike, who was reportedly off duty, had parked his personal vehicle outside the bank at the time.

The police officer is said to have confronted the technician and the boda boda rider who brought him before drawing his firearm and shooting at the two.

Fired seven rounds

Police reports show he fired seven rounds, shooting Mr Mwangi four times in both legs while the rider escaped unhurt before being arrested by the police commander, who was alone at the time.

Mr Alike reported the incident at the Nyeri Central Police Station, alleging that the two had tried to rob him at gunpoint, prompting him to open fire in self-defence.

Initially, it had been reported that a fake pistol belonging to Mr Mwangi was also found at the scene.

Police investigations into the attempted robbery allegations made by Mr Alike were inconclusive, prompting the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to drop the charges against Mr Mwangi.

Detectives also failed to prove the claims about a fake firearm, suggesting there was an attempt to plant a fake weapon on the victim in an apparent bid to cover up the unprovoked gun attack.


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