Kenyan Police Watchdog to Probe ‘Extrajudicial Killings’ Video

Police officers keep a crowd at a distance away from a car suspected of having explosives near the Eastleigh neighborhood, Nairobi, Kenya, April 24, 2014. A video has emerged appearing to showing the killing of a man by a purported plainclothes police officer. Noor Khamis/Reuters

Kenya’s police watchdog has launched an investigation into a video that appears to show a man reported to be a policemen executing an alleged gang member in Nairobi.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said in a statement Saturday that it had sent its rapid response unit to investigate the shooting, which it said took place Friday in the suburb of Eastleigh.

A one-minute video clip that circulated on social media and was reported by Kenyan newspaper The Star showed two men, purported to be plainclothes police officers, holding guns and apprehending a suspect in front of a crowd. Another man lies on the ground nearby, covered in blood. A man in army fatigues armed with a gun then approaches to disperse the crowd.

One of the purported police officers pulls the suspect towards him, and five shots ring out as the screen goes black. The camera then shows the purported officer standing on the suspect; he is handed a pistol by another man, and another five shots are heard but not captured on camera. The suspect is later pictured in the video lying face down on the ground before the purported officer approaches him; another shot is heard, but again, not seen on camera.

The IPOA said that it would “investigate the incident with a view of establishing circumstances of the shooting and if there is culpability ensuring those responsible face the full force of the law.”

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations have also launched an investigation and visited the scene of the shooting, where they reportedly collected the guns used, according to Kenyan news site Standard Digital.

Nairobi Police Commander Japheth Koome told The Star that the video was “acted” and said that Kenyan police would continue to be “ruthless” with criminals. The man lying on the road in a pool of blood and the man who is shot in the video are thought to be members of a gang in Eastleigh, The Star reported. Newsweek contacted Koome for further comment but received no immediate reply.

Civil society groups in Kenya have registered shock at the footage. The Law Society of Kenya’s President Isaac Okero said an inquiry was necessary “to establish how police officers execute unarmed civilians in broad daylight with impunity.” The Independent Medico-Legal Unit, an anti-torture NGO based in Nairobi, said it “condemns the misuse of firearms either by civilians or police officers” and called for an investigation into the incident, in a statement reported by Standard Digital.

Eastleigh is a predominantly-Somali area of Nairobi and is known as Little Mogadishu.

Human rights groups have previously criticized Kenyan police for brutality in dealing with protesters, while a 2016 report by Kenyan NGO Haki Africa said that the police had killed or “forcibly disappeared” at least 81 Muslims living along the country’s eastern coast. The police rejected the report.