The police officer who caused a boda-boda accident in Lamu, that led to the death of passenger Margaret Njeri in 2015, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Justice Weldon Korir sentenced Salim Mohamed on Wednesday after finding him guilty of a manslaughter.
The Malindi court dropped the murder charge that Mr Mohamed initially faced, saying he did not intend to kill the 22-year-old on January 17, 2015 in Mpeketoni.
While noting that the main ingredient in murder is malice aforethought, Justice Korir said the incident was accidental.
“I do find that there was no intention to cause the death or to commit a felony on the part of the accused,’’ he said.
The judge explained, however, that the woman did not simply fall from the moving motorcycle but that this happened after the officer threw his gun at the operator.
He said the accused tried to effect arrest by using his gun, an action which he termed "reckless and negligent since he was not under any threat".
Justice Korir said that although the accused had a right to use his rifle, he did so unlawfully as the circumstances did not call for this.
“He ought to have exercised restraint. The fact that a curfew had been imposed due to Al-Shabaab attacks cannot justify the accused’s action,’’ said the judge.
Ms Njeri fell off the boda-boda after the policeman threw his gun at the operator in an attempt to force him to stop.
The gun missed the target and hit her on the right side of the head.
She was taken to Mpeketoni Hospital and then referred to the Coast General Provincial General Hospital before being admitted at Pandya, where she died. She had been in and out of the intensive care unit.
According to Ms Njeri's family, doctors and lawyer George Wakahiu, her skull cracked when she fell from the motorcycle.
Speaking after the court session, her mother Miriam Njeri and sister Ann Njuguna said they will file a civil suit against the government to seek compensation for her death.
“The sentence is not enough. We spent a lot of money at the hospital where Njeri was admitted and on transport to attend court sittings,” the mother said.
Salma Hemed, the programme coordinator at rights group Haki Africa, told journalists that they will not relent in the fight for justice.