Dreaded Pangani cop Rashid to finally have his day in court
The mention of the name of the Pangani-based Sergeant Rashid Ahmed sends shivers down the spines of residents of the sprawling Mathare slums and Eastleigh in Nairobi.
For almost a decade, Rashid has been one of the most feared cops in the city, hunting down robbers to their hideouts, and in most cases, sending them to their early graves.
Human rights activists and several government agencies have, to no avail, complained over his ready-to-shoot attitude.
But five years after he shot dead two unarmed men in Eastleigh, the law has finally caught up with him.
Rashid is set to be charged with the murder of the two young men after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) approved the charges yesterday.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) launched investigations into the shooting of Jamal Mohamed and Mohamed Dahir Kheri in Eastleigh on March 31, 2017.
IPOA chairperson Ann Makori said they had established that the fatalities were occasioned by police action.
“Guided by Section 29 (a) of the IPOA Act, the findings were forwarded to the DPP with the recommendation to charge Corporal Ahmed Rashid, with murder,” the chair said.
At the time of the shooting, Rashid was a Corporal but has since been promoted to Sergeant.
“The ODPP, after independently interrogating the case file upheld IPOA’s findings that there is sufficient evidence to charge the officer with the offence of murder,” Makori added.
Yesterday, the Authority moved to the Milimani High Court and obtained summons against the police officer, to take a plea on December 8.
According to IPOA, the two were shot on First Avenue Eastleigh between Taisir and Amal Shopping malls.
The decision to charge the officer comes years after several human rights organisations and members of the public levelled serious allegations, mostly extrajudicial killings, against the Pangani-based officer.
According to IPOA, they had received numerous cases against the officer but the cases had not been concluded as the key witnesses were reluctant to record statements.
Days after they were shot, the deceased’s family members said their kin were “mere” pickpockets who operated within Eastleigh and not gunmen as purported by the police.
Dahir Kherir Roble said he got reports that his son kept the company of rogue boys, the Super Power, who was stealing from people.
He maintained that his son had no gun and was not involved in a string of robberies as alleged by the police.
Jamal’s uncle Omar Muhammed also confirmed that they knew the two as “just petty” thieves and not armed. He said Jamal was an orphan who was left to fend for himself after his parents and grandparents died.
Family members said they should have been arrested and charged in court since everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Authority had raised concern over the misuse of firearms and use of excessive force saying they continued to be the biggest challenge facing the National Police Service.
According to the police oversight body, the unjustified use of deadly force by the officers is however the tip of the iceberg as most investigations into cases of extrajudicial killings had stalled due to witness threats and intimidation.
IPOA has also warned that there is an increase in the use of excessive force by police officers, resulting in loss of lives and grievous bodily harm.
Social media uproar
Officers are only allowed to use firearms when less extreme measures are inadequate to save or protect the life of the officer or another person and to defend themselves or another person against an impending threat of life or serious injury.
According to police regulations, officers should always attempt to use non-violent means first and the force used should be proportional to the objective to be achieved, the seriousness of the offence, and the resistance of the person against whom it is used.
“Following the orders of a superior is no excuse for unlawful use of force,” Makori said.
A few months after the shooting, Kenyan social media also exploded after the officer was captured apparently shooting dead two unarmed men in Eastleigh.
In a video that went viral, Rashid pumped bullets into the young man, then took his colleague’s gun and continued to shoot the man who was already on the ground.
The graphic video shows one of the victims lying in a pool of blood as uniformed police officers push back the crowd, while an officer believed to be Rashid shoots him point blank.
After that shooting, Rashid admitted that it was his mandate to rid the streets of criminals.
“Those we profile, we have to get them alive or dead,” he said in an interview with a BBC journalist.
When the incident happened, the current Inspector General Japhet Koome, who was then the Nairobi Region police commander, defended the shooting.
“The same gangsters shot dead an officer yesterday. Tell all gangsters out there that when they kill an officer, I am ruthless and they will get it from me,” Koome said then.
The then Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet later ordered investigations but five years later, the matter has not been concluded.
Such killings have put Pangani Police Station on the spot in the last few years.
On March 19, officers from the station were also captured shooting two suspected criminals, who had surrendered, outside the station.
In their report, police said: “We challenged the suspected criminals to surrender but they refused and shot at us. A serious shootout ensued and the officers managed to fatally injure two robbers.”
On December 25, 2019, officers from the station also shot dead Peter Irungu, 19, and Brian Mung’aru, 20, who witnesses said were also shot while kneeling down and pleading with the police to spare their lives.
Some of the witnesses said the officers arrested the men, did a body search, and found no weapons on them. They then took them to Amana Petrol Station terminus, where they shot them.
The Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) has also been documenting some of the killings by police in Mathare since 2015 and claimed that a large number of these killings were by Rashid.
A former leader of the centre, Lucy Wambui, is the widow of Christopher “Maish” Maina, who was allegedly killed by Rashid in 2017.
“A witness to Maich’s killing was also killed by Rashid in 2018,” the Centre said in a letter addressed to police headquarters after Rashid visited the Centre in July 2020.
“As a police officer, Rashid is certainly aware of the legal avenues to lodge a complaint, therefore we consider his request an excuse to enter our space and intimidate us,” they said.
There are several cases against the officer and IPOA had in the past said they were experiencing challenges in investigating some cases due to witness intimidation.