Police officer to face murder trial – Inquest rules
A police officer who violently shot and killed a man four years ago will be tried for murder, an inquest has ruled.
Corporal Soo Selote was on Tuesday found liable for the death of Cornelius Musili Kilee on November 20th, 2018.
Cornelius, 26, was shot dead inside an apartment in Thika town by officer Selot, who then devised a plan to cover up the murder, according to the inquest conducted by Senior Resident Magistrate V.A. Ogutu.
Ogutu said the officer shot at Cornelius“without any warning and to a person who the court was told could not put up a fight due to his level of intoxication (alcohol).”
Cornelius had returned home from a party drunk and went straight to bed that day. He had just moved into a new home a few days before the incident. Instead of moving into his new home, he returned to his old one and slept.
The new owners reported him to the police. Selote and two other officers went to the house and found Cornelius sitting with the owners, and they shot him.
“The officer was deployed to save a situation, he intervened with an aggressive militarized response and show of force leading to the death,” the magistrate ruled.
Further, the magistrate observed that Cornelius was shot from the back.
“It is clear that a crime of murder was committed. I hold that Cornelius Musili Kilee was murdered by a police officer who shot him leading to his death.”
When questioned about the incident, Selote claimed that he acted in self-defence after the victim charged at him while armed with a knife, hammer and toy pistol.
But the court held that Cornelius was too intoxicated to put up a fight and questioned how he could have carried a knife, a hammer and a toy pistol.
The court also questioned why the police recommended that the case be decided by inquest just hours after the shooting, before the post-mortem and ballistic examinations were completed.
“It is questionable what the rush was all about,” said Ogutu.
The magistrate also ordered that two other officers, Pc Jonathan Chemitei and PC Eric Gitonga, be treated as persons of interest for assisting Selote in covering up the murder.
He stated that PC Gitonga and Chemitei provided contradictory evidence. Furthermore, he claimed Gitonga wrote a letter recommending an inquest just hours after the shooting. Chemitei lied about Selote warning Cornelius to hand over a gun.
“I shall forward this decision to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with the findings of the inquest in accordance with the law.”
An officer must always make an effort to use nonviolent means. Force may be used only when nonviolent means fail. International Justice Mission represented the family in court.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) investigated the crime and identified glaring gaps in the initial police report.