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….Wife of unarmed man shot and killed by police, says she was robbed of her fairy tale life
By Svetlana Marshall
Detra Walters, the wife of Winston Fraser who died almost two years after he was shot by ranks of the Guyana Police Force and left paralysed, said she will not rest until justice is served and she’s fully compensated for the pain and suffering her husband and family endured at the hands of the State.
At age 30, Fraser died in the arms of his wife at their Freeman Street, East La Penitence, Georgetown home on April 1, 2022 – close to two years after being shot by the police in the company of his friends on D’Urban Street on July 25, 2020. They were driving at the time.
While two of his friends escaped unharmed, Fraser and 39-year-old Cecil Sampat were not so lucky. They both sustained life-threatening injuries with Sampat dying days later on August 6, 2020. The men were unarmed at the time. The police had mistaken them for robbery suspects.
Initially, Police Constable Troy Munroe and Police Corporal Godwin Thomas were jointly charged with the murder of Sampat but the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, in December 2020, withdrew the charge, and advised that Munroe, instead, be charged with lesser offence of manslaughter, and for there to be further investigation done.
In an interview with the Village Voice Newspaper on Saturday, Walters said the police officers must now be charged for the murder of her husband – a position she intends to make known when she, along with Fraser’s relatives, meets with the Commissioner of Police (ag) Clifton Hicken on Monday (April 11).
“Those responsible for his death must be charged. If he wasn’t shot, he would have been alive and well today, because, before the shooting, he had no known complications. So we need justice,” Walters told this newspaper. Fraser was shot in his upper back and despite a number of medical procedures and surgeries, he remained paralysed until the time of his death.
According to Walters, the Guyana Police never made contact with her or Fraser’s relatives following his death, however, his brother, who is a police officer, made arrangements for the family to meet with the acting Police Commissioner. An initial meeting was held and another meeting with the Commissioner (ag) is scheduled for Monday, April 11, 2022, according to the grieving woman.
Walters said although her husband suffered life-threatening injuries, the Guyana Police Force offered him no financial or medical support, not even a card. “Well, first of all, they only dealt with Sampat’s issue, whereby he died but the person who was left alive, still breathing, suffering at the time, not even a $20, not even a call from the Guyana Police Force to say I am sorry that this has happened,” the grieving woman said.
She added: “There was no financial aid, medical aid, nothing was rendered.”
Walters said the entire incident has left her emotionally broken. “It has been a devastating period for me, an emotional period; I feel broken and robbed of a fairy tale life with Winston,” she said. The two grew up on Freeman Street before becoming friends when Walters was 16. As an adult, she moved in with Fraser and together, they lived on Freeman Street.
Walters said news of Fraser being shot in July 2020 devastated their families. He was just 28-years-old at the time, she emphasized, adding that he worked at John Fernandes Ltd as a tally clerk. “Losing his job cost us so much because I had to quit my job, at first, just to look at him, and it became challenging,” she said.
Walters explained that as a result of the injuries sustained, Fraser spent many days and nights in the hospital undergoing surgeries and treatment. He was in and out, she said. “It used to be tiring, because we were up and down, in and out of the hospital. Sometimes, I would sit outside the hospital all day, especially when he did surgeries,” she said.
On December 16, 2021 Fraser was admitted into the hospital and remained a patient until January 22, 2022. He required blood at the time. Following his release, Walters cared for him day and night, as she did for the past two years, until his death.
She said the State must now compensate her as well as Fraser’s family for the pain they have endured.
“Some of us give up but some don’t, but at this point, I am not giving up. I will challenge the State for the financial aid that wasn’t even given when he was alive,” she vowed.
Walters is also calling for persons to be properly screened and trained before being admitted into Guyana Police Force. “First of all, they need to look at the mental state of the persons that they are hiring at the Police Academy; secondly proper rules, regulations, guidance and training must be given, because we are all humans regardless of race. We are all brothers and sisters, it’s just one word governing us, humans. I just want to see they have proper training…,” she said.