By Peter Stevenson
A CRIMINAL investigator has been assigned to look into why officers shot at and injured a 20-year-old man in Paphos late on Monday following a high-speed chase.
Police were notified on Thursday by legal services that lawyer Alexandros Saouris, hired from the private sector, has been assigned to investigate the circumstances which led two police officers from the motorcycle Z unit to use their fire-arms, injuring the young man.
Police chief Michalis Papageorgiou also ordered two independent disciplinary investigations into the matter, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said.
“The first disciplinary investigation will be to determine why the officers used their guns and the second, to determine why they did not mention in their report that they used their weapons,” he said.
The incident began at around 10.45pm on Monday when the officers signalled a car with three men in it to stop but instead the 22-year-old driver performed a U-turn and sped away.
It has since emerged that the car did not have any licence plate numbers while the driver told police the reason he did not stop when called to was because there were drugs in the car.
According to reports, the officers fired five times at the car in an attempt to shoot the tyres, injuring the 20-year-old who was sitting in the passenger seat. In his attempts to evade arrest the 22-year-old driver allegedly swerved dangerously on several occasions during the chase, almost knocking the officers off their motorbikes, police said.
The car was found abandoned on Tuesday morning in a farming area. The ballistic report indicated that a bullet had entered through the rear of the car, passed through the passenger seat – striking the 20-year-old in the shoulder – and exited via the windshield. Four unused shotgun cartridges and tools which are believed to be used in burglaries were found in the car, police said.
The young men had initially managed to get away but police caught up with them when, at around 3.45am on Tuesday, the 20-year-old went to Paphos general hospital’s emergency department for treatment of a bullet injury on his left shoulder.
Due to his condition he was taken immediately for surgery.
According to the head of the hospital, Spyros Georgiou, the injury was not serious or life threatening.
On Tuesday, acting police spokeswoman Nicoletta Tyrimou told reporters that the two officers would be suspended. Charges against any of the three men in the car during the high-speed chase would only be considered after pending investigations are concluded, she said.