Liberia: EPs Officer Disrobed Following Shooting

An officer of the elite Executive Protection Service (EPS') counter assault team (E - Cat), has been disrobed and held for investigation after firing a live bullet last week that inflicted wound on Deputy Defense Minister for Administration Mr. Olandrus Dixon.

The shooting incident occurred in a crowd Thursday, 31 October outside the Monrovia City Hall while presidential guards were responding to an incident when a vehicle ran into a packed motorcade of President George MannehWeah's convoy.EPS Director Trokon Roberts told local broadcaster OK FM Monday that the EPS officer discharged his weapon on the ground and fragments from the bullet affected Deputy Minister Dixon's left leg.

"We are still investigating. Meanwhile the officer has been disrobed, as a matter of SOP [standard operating procedure]," Mr. Roberts says."Investigations are underway to establish the circumstances under which his weapon went off without his [officer's] concern," Mr. Roberts adds, noting that "We all know it was an EPS officer."

The EPS chief however notes that while it was a joint security operation, he is limiting it to the EPS.Also speaking on the shooting incident, Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby confirms that the EPS officer from the E-Cat Unit involved in the incident has been disrobed and is going through serious investigation.

While Smith tries to deny that the shooter is an EPS, his further explanation suddenly confirms the contrary, as he details that the E-Cat Team which the officer forms part of is just like the Liberia National Police and its elite unit - the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).

"It's just how you see the Liberia National Police and then you see the ERU," he says.

According to him, the E-Cat team is a unit that supports the EPS in terms of response. Similarly in the Liberia National Police (LNP), the ERU is the last force that responds to major situations including riots and armed robberies, among others.Smith says the EPS officer is being investigated and there's a procedure set for that, noting that "we will follow with that because it is a very serious concern."

He, however, clarifies that Deputy Defense Minister Dixon was not directly fired at, saying the outcome of the investigation will speak to how the officer "discharged a weapon in the crowd when people had gone to just see what happened."He notes that there is a different account from different people that Minister Dixon was directly fired at.According to the Deputy Press Secretary, the incident took place around 5:00 to 5:30pm, at a time when there is traffic here.

Concerning Minister Dixon's condition, Mr. Smith says he has visited the victim and he (Mr. Dixon) has been speaking to is families and friends."... Not a major injury ... There's nothing major about what ... happened; but major in the sense that even to discharge live bullet [gives] it so much volume. So the authorities [are] investigating. And we are sure that we will be informed as to the findings of their investigation," he says.

Smith expresses the administration's regrets over the situation, saying it will be handled professionally.He concludes that the driver of the vehicle [that ran into the presidential convoy] is being investigated by the Liberia National Police because he was involved in hit and run and ran into a packed motorcade of the president's convoy.

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