Man dies in police custody relatives demand explanation
July 7, 2004
A 38-year-old man was found dead in his cell at around 6:00 hrs yesterday morning while being detained at the La Grange Police Station on allegations that he stole two gold rings.
The man, Kellowan Etwaroo, called ‘Rajesh’ or ‘Tolo’ of Lot 5 Independence Street, La Grange West Bank Demerara was discovered dead when his wife went to the station to take some clothing for him to prepare for a court appearance.
The man’s sister Bhagwattie told Kaieteur News that the family was informed by the police that they were preparing to take Etwaroo to the Leonora Magistrate’s Court to answer the charge.
However, relatives contend that the man was already dead when a check at the court revealed that the man was never charged and there was no matter there for him.
The dead man’s wife Angela said that about 7:00 hrs yesterday morning she went to the station to take food and some clothes for her husband to wear during his court appearance.
“When I guh dem tell me dat dem want a statement from me, suh me ask dem statement fuh wha because me na get charge wid nothing. I ask dem to give me husband de food because he must be hungry and de police sey leh he wait. De police ask me if me husband ever run off and if he does trouble wid anything and den he tell me fuh sign. Me ask he sign wha? Because me can’t read and he force me fuh sign three times,” the widow recounted.
The woman added that when they were finished taking the statement she requested to see her husband.
She asserted that she was rudely told that her husband was dead after which she was led to the back of the lockup to the last cell.
There she saw the lifeless body of Etwaroo lying half naked with filth splattered all over the cell.
“He de lie down stretch off wid he bare brief and he skin full of mess and mess deh all over de wall in de cell. I ask dem how he dead and dem tell me dat he bin running mad,” Angela said.
Angela also stated that since her husband’s incarceration, she was only able to see him once from a distance.
“Every time yo guh and ask fuh see he dem does tell you dat he can’t talk to nobody,” the wife said.
She added that the police would always collect the food and usher her out of the station.
“My husband was a strong man. He had no sickness or nothing and he never trouble with mental problems and den dem telling we dat dem ain’t even know when he dead,” Angela said.
The dead man’s father, Manny, confirmed that his son was taken into custody since Friday and acknowledged that he had seen Etwaroo on one occasion when he took him some food.
“I carry food fuh he Monday and he sey he ain’t want none suh I bring it home back. He was sitting at he cell door and he seemed alright,” Etwaroo’s father said.
Etwaroo’s eldest sister, Bhagwattie said that if her brother was sick the police should have informed the family so they would know what appropriate action they should take.
She added that she was in court waiting to hear his name call while her brother’s body was being hurriedly taken away to the hospital mortuary.
The sister said the family went to the police station and was met by an inspector who took them to a room and said that he was going to ask the officer why he did not read over the statement to the dead man’s wife.
“De inspector sey he bin hallowering whole night and dem ain’t really know when he dead.”
She pointed out that the person behind her brother’s death is the woman who got him locked up.
The woman said that her brother was drinking in a restaurant with two women when one of the women took off her rings and placed then into her handbag and handed it to Etwaroo.
She said Etwaroo left the restaurant at midnight and went home with the rings which he turned over to his wife.
According to his wife, the next morning the woman came for her rings and was given two rings when she alleged that there were four.
“I told her dat is only two ring me husband bring home and she sey alright she ain’t want no story cause she husband done deh in de lock up fuh some cell phone wha he thief but she want pawn de jewel fuh bail he,” the wife said.
She said the next thing she knew was that the woman had reported the matter and her husband was taken away by the police exactly three weeks after the actual incident.
“He did not commit suicide; they have to tell us how he died. They must give us an explanation,” Etwaroo’s sister said.
The man who was a grass-cutter, fathered a 10-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. He leaves to mourn his wife, children, two brothers and two sisters.
Police said that Etwaroo was an alleged alcoholic and had an apparent nerve problem at the time when they held him for alleged larceny.
An arrest warrant was also issued for his arrest for assault charges that he had pleaded guilty to.
They added that he was behaving hysterical in the lockups and that he was ‘alright’ up to 5:00 hrs yesterday morning.
He was also alone in the cell at the time of his death and his body bore minor bruises. Investigators have already ruled out foul play.