Police officers found guilty of manslaughter in City Park killing of woman
By Paul Ogemba | May 11th 2021
It was mid-morning on May 20, 2018 when Janet Waiyaki and her nephew Benard Chege were resting inside her car at City Park in Nairobi’s Parklands area after a night out.
Janet, aged 41 at the time, had apparently wanted to sleep after a long night of binge and chewing khat (miraa) and moved to the back seat from the front passenger seat while Chege, then 27, remained on the driver’s seat.
No sooner had they slept than they had bangs on the car door ordering them to open. When when they opened their eyes, they saw two police officers pointing guns at them.
Chege panicked and out of fear started the car engine in a bid to flee, but he did not go far as the officers sprayed the car with 15 bullets. As a result, Janet was killed while Chege was left fighting for his life with gunshot wounds.
The two police officers who cut short Janet’s life, constables William Chirchir and Godfrey Kirui, have been found guilty of manslaughter after Justice Stella Mutuku ruled that their actions did not amount to murder.
Justice Mutuku ruled that although the officers acted recklessly in shooting Janet and Chege, they could not be accused of murder since they were operating under a threat of terrorism which required extra attention after the two refused to open the car door and attempted to flee.
“I am persuaded to give the officers the benefit of doubt that their intention was not to kill the deceased even though the court finds that they acted against the law. The offence proved by the evidence brought in court is that of manslaughter and not murder,” ruled Mutuku.
Justice Mutuku added that although the offence of murder had been established, the court can reduce it to the lesser offence of manslaughter since the officers had no malice aforethought or intention to kill Janet.
She ruled that although Chege might have acted foolishly by refusing to open the car door and attempting to flee, the officers were not justified in using the excessive force that resulted in the death of her aunt since they could have shot at the tires to flatten them and stop the vehicle.
“The two officers stated that they did not intend to kill the deceased or to injure the driver but the court finds that they acted recklessly given that they were not under any threat after the vehicle drove off and it could have still been intercepted without arming the occupants,” ruled Mutuku.
Chirchir and Kirui were charged with the murder of Janet with the prosecution’s case being pegged on Chege’s testimony as a star eye witness who was at the scene and survived the shooting with gunshots on his side.
Chege in his testimony told the court that he met with his aunt on the evening of May 19, 2018 and decided to go for a night out. He said they spent the night chewing khat (miraa) at a joint in Pangani area until the morning of May 20.
At around 7am the following day, Chege told the court they left Pangani for Viewpoint place along Naivasha Road to take some pictures.
“We spent some time taking pictures of the sunrise at Viewpoint then left. The plan was to take her back home since she was tired after the night out but she said she didn’t want to go home and said we go for a rest at City Park,” said Chege.
While at City Park, he said his aunt wanted to sleep and shifted from the front to the back seat while he remained at the driver’s seat.
According to Chege, he suddenly heard people banging the car and when he looked around, he saw guns pointing at them. He said he panicked and out of fear started the car but did not go far as what followed were bullets being pumped at them.
Chege was also at pains to explain to court that he was not having an affair with his aunt after police reports suggested that they had spent the night in Nakuru and that her aunt’s clothes, panty, stockings and boots were recovered inside the car.
“I had no affair with my aunt; we were just having a good time together. Our relationship was just that of an aunt and a nephew. Even my uncle was comfortable with our friendship and he never raised any issue,” he told the court.
Justice Mutuku ruled that the two officers acted contrary to police code of conduct and contravened the Constitution which requires them to preserve life. She directed that they be presented to court on Thursday (tomorrow) for mitigation before sentencing.
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