Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
THE funeral and burial service for a police officer at Asueyi, a farming community near Techiman in the Brong-Ahafo Region, on Saturday turned fatal when one of the shots fired by some of his colleagues to show solidarity killed two mourners.
The bullet, allegedly fired by Constable Andrew Yankey of the Police Dragon Unit, who police sources say was not part of the official police delegation to the funeral, hit Opanin Kwaku Addai in the abdomen, killing the 70- year-old farmer instantly.
After killing Opanin Addai, who hailed from Mesidan, a farming community near Asueyi, the bullet hit three other persons, namely, Police Constable Owusu Ansah, Police Constable Amaniampong and Opanin Kwaku Nyamekye, a 75-year-old farmer from Kenten, near Techiman. The three injured persons were rushed to the Techiman Holy Family Hospital on Saturday, but Opanin Nyamekye died yesterday from his wounds.
The incident created commotion, with many mourners and sympathisers running to take cover. Opanin Addai was the uncle of the late Police Inspector Peter Kwabena Addai whose funeral he had attended. Inspector Addai died at Nsawkaw in the Tain District on December 25, last year through a motor accident while on night patrol.
Eyewitnesses said the body of the late Inspector Addai, who was a member of the Brong-Ahafo Regional Police Patrol Dragon Unit, had been laid in a casket at the Roman Catholic Church at Asueyi for the burial service when the incident occurred.
They said the policemen also shot through the roof of the church building, bringing the entire proceedings to an abrupt end.
According to them, the policemen, wielding loaded guns, began to fire into the air as a last respect to their dead colleague. The eyewitnesses said some of the bullets hit Opanin Addai and the two others who were all mourners at the funeral. Mourners and sympathisers who had come from far and near to pay their last respect fled the funeral grounds for their various destinations.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) James Oppong-Boanuh, confirmed that Constable Yankey had been arrested and placed in police custody and that he would be put before court for murder.
DCOP Oppong-Boanuh disclosed further that Constable Yankey, who was returning from night patrol the previous day, decided to pass by the funeral ground, carrying his duty weapon.
He said according to police regulations, no policeman was permitted to display weapons or fire shots at the funeral of a deceased colleague, except the police arm party that could fire at the graveside of the deceased, upon order, after the casket had been lowered into the grave.
Meanwhile, the late Inspector Addai has been buried at Asueyi Catholic Cemetery, while the bodies of Opanin Addai and Opanin Nyamekye have been deposited at the Techiman Holy Family Hospital mortuary for autopsy.
The injured Constable Owusu-Ansah is on admission at the same hospital and said to be responding to treatment, while Constable Amaniampong was treated and discharged.