A police officer who fatally shot a stonemason in Mukurwe-ini was acting in self-defence since the victim was armed with a panga and had refused to surrender, a State witness has told the High Court in Nyeri.
The witness told Justice Abigail Mshila that the victim, Gregory Kanyi King’ori, was advancing towards Corporal Chibungu Sanga, who was armed with an AK-47 rifle during the incident on the night of March 7, 2015.
Corporal Sanga shot Mr King’ori in the chest and he died moments later.
The court heard that the officer was in his uniform and was accompanied by three colleagues – Constables Martin Ireri, Charles Huja and Bakari.
The officers had gone to arrest Mr King’ori for assaulting Constable Ireri at a pub in Mukurwe-ini town on February 22, 2015.
While testifying in court on Wednesday, Constable Ireri said Mr King’ori had defied orders to drop the panga and, during the scuffle, he injured Corporal Sanga’s left hand thumb.
“Sanga fired twice, first in the air to shield himself and the second [time] at the deceased,” said the witness.
The bar fight happened after Mr King’ori violently demanded beer from Mr Ireri’s friend identified as Mr Ndegwa, the court heard.
“The deceased caused disruption in the bar. I was taking soda and I told him to stop but instead he hit me with his elbow. I tried to arrest him but I was unable. I called for reinforcement but he escaped,” testified Mr Ireri, who has been in police service for 19 years.
On arrival at Mr King’ori’s home, the court heard that the officers knocked on the door and introduced themselves but he refused to open.
“A woman’s voice responded saying she would open but King’ori told her to stop and said he would want to see the manliness of whoever would dare open the door. He later came out armed with a machete,” Mr Ireri told the court. He was being cross-examined by State lawyer Emma Gicheha.
He further testified that police are allowed to fire when preventing escape from lawful custody, when in dangerous situations and when a life is in danger. He described the fateful incident as a dangerous situation.
However, the witness was at pains to explain why the officer failed to shoot to disarm or immobilise the victim and instead shot to fatally injure him.
“The accused was in danger and threatened. During the altercation, the accused was also injured and he was treated at Mukurweini hospital at around 3am. According to police standing orders there is no specific time to effect an arrest,” the witness said.
After he was shot, the victim escaped towards his family’s coffee plantation and his body was found the following morning.
Corporal Sanga was charged with murder following a recommendation by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa).
Ipoa's report indicated that the officers went to arrest King’ori at midnight and broke down the door to his house.
The hearing of the case continues on July 18, 2019.