A police officer is liable for the killing of Mr. Cornelius Musili Kilee in Thika, a Magistrate Court ruled on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Mr. Kilee was shot dead inside an apartment by one of the police officers who had responded to an alleged robbery incident at the residence on November 20, 2018.

The ruling, a result of a public inquest delivered by Senior Resident Magistrate V.A. Ogutu, stated that the Corporal Soo Selote “was deployed to save a situation of alleged robbery with violence and he intervened with an aggressive militarized response and show of force leading to the death. Thereafter, there was an attempt to have a cover up of what actually happened.”

It added: “Equally Constable Jonathan Chemitei together with Constable Erick Gitonga be treated as persons of interest and Director of Public Prosecutions to carry out investigations on the said officers.”

This followed an investigation by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority which identified glaring gaps in the immediate police report which alleged that the victim was armed with a knife, harmer, and a toy pistol, and had invaded a house together with three accomplices.

The police also reported that the officer fired after the victim charged at him while armed and defied orders to drop his weapon.

After recording statements from eighteen (18) people including eye witnesses, police officers, data analysts and pathologists, IPOA recommended that the matter be disposed off by public inquest.

A separate investigation by the police also recommended a public inquest.

In its investigation, IPOA raised concerns including; the post-mortem identified head injuries inflicted with blunt force beside the fatal bullet wound with an entry and an exit point, the toy pistol may have been introduced after the incident, the scene may have been interfered with since neither a bullet head nor a spent cartridge were recovered.

The Authority alluded to a coverup in making its recommendation.   

The Court, in delivering the ruling besides other considerations, noted the officer shot at the victim “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).”

The victim was shot from the back yet the police indicated he was charging at the officers.

The ruling further noted: “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.”

The Court also questioned why the police recommended the fatality be disposed of by inquest just hours after the shooting, yet the post-mortem and ballistic examinations were yet to be conducted.

“It is questionable what the rush was all about,” according to the ruling.

The Magistrate concluded: “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.”