Police have released another version to the incident involving Johiem Peters, a 17-year-old fisherman of Annandale, East Coast Demerara who accused a Guyana Police Force rank stationed at the Vigilance Police Station of torturing him.
The Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is looking into his claim.
Initially, the Guyana Police Force claimed that while Peters was in the lock-ups, he ignited a fire on his t-shirt while playing with a lighter.
On Monday, in an official statement, Police Headquarters noted that Peters, told EMTs that he had been smoking in the lockups when he slept and the cigarette had caught on his shirt.
“The inquiry has so far shown that on July 10, 2022, at around 10:30 hrs, Peters was arrested pending an investigation into an allegation of an alleged robbery under arms in which he was recognized as one of the attackers and was assisting the Police with the said investigation.” Police said in a statement.
Peters told investigators that while he was detained, two of his friends —names withheld—were also brought into custody.
They were sitting on the prisoner’s bench in front of the lockups with another male detainee when Peters reportedly asked one of them for a cigarette lighter and his friend gave him a lighter, police said.
“The other prisoner admitted to seeing when Peter’s friend gave him the cigarette lighter but claimed that he only heard Peters screaming while he was alone in the cell.” The statement went on to say.
The police officer on duty at the Vigilance Police Station rushed to the cell and removed Peters while his shirt was still on fire.
Peters, who was subsequently questioned by the EMTs, claimed that he had been smoking in the lockups when he slept off and the cigarette had caught on his shirt.
Two other civilian witnesses informed the investigators that they had heard Peters screaming from his cell while they were at the station and that when the Police on duty took him outside, they saw fire on his shirt.
The investigation is ongoing.