By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
POLICE have defended actions of its officers who fired a rubber bullet at a man whom they suspect was one of the three who escaped Rove Correctional Centre last month.
Acting Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau came out to clarify the incident, which occurred in the Aligator Creek area of east Honiara on Monday night.
The man, a security guard who works for Solbrew, was heading home to Tenaru when he was fired at after he continued to run away from the police when asked to stop.
He sustained injuries to his back, hand and fingers.
Mangau said as part of Operation Hunt Man, the Police Response Team (PRT) was deployed to the area after police received information between 8pm and 10pm on Monday 6th January 2020 that one of the wanted persons has been sighted in the Tenaru area.
“Prior to arrival at the Tenaru School Bus stop, the PRT team met a male person which matched the description provided by the informant earlier that evening,” Mangai said.
“The PRT team clearly identified themselves as Police Officers to the male person,” he added.
“In actual fact the Team identified themselves as Police Officers, three times but the male person ran away from the PRT team.
“The PRT team trailed the male person to verify if he was one of the wanted prison escapees while continuing to ask him to stop saying they were police officers and that they wanted to talk to him.
“The male person refused to stop and kept on running as a result fell down three times and injured his left ring finger.
“He kept on running despite repeated calls to him from the PRT officers that they were police.
“At a distance of about 20 to 25 metres it became suspicious that the person might be the wanted prison escapee as a result one the PRT officers used the ‘Use of Force’ option available at that time, which is a less lethal bean bag round to stop the male person from fleeing into the dark vegetation.
“The PRT officer discharged less lethal rounds before the male person fell down and slowly raised both hands on his head and stood up and identified him to the PRT operators.
“Unfortunately he was not the wanted person.”
Mangau said as part of the duty of care, the PRT officers took the male person to the Hells Point Explosive Ordnance Device facility where he was given first hand medical treatment by PRT medics.
“The male person sustained an injury to his left hand ring fingers when he fell down.
“He also sustained one bruise on his back as a result of one of the bean bags hitting him.
“After the PRT team gave the male person medical assistance he was asked if they will transport him to the National Referral Hospital in Honiara for further medical attention.
“The male person refused and stated that he wanted to be dropped off at his aunt’s home in the Tenaru School area.
“The PRT team dropped him where he wanted to go,” Mangau said.
He added members of the public who may have any complaint against the actions of the PRT in this particular incident are welcomed to file a complaint with the RSIPF Professional Standards and Internal Investigation (PSII).
He also said the PSII are conducting a preliminary enquiry into the incident.
Since their escape on December 15 last year, police have so far recaptured Willie Oso, a convicted armed robber.
Still at large are Frank Firimolea and Dilo Faiga.