A video of a policeman being choked by a taxi driver has reawakened the conversation whether police officers should ride the same vehicle with suspects they have arrested.
In the video that has since gone viral, a man who police identified as David Kariuki Kamurwa is seen grabbing the traffic policeman. The officer frantically gasps for breath and waves at passers by to help him.
The scuffle attracted passers-by who saved him from the driver. The driver is seen speeding off and the policeman trying to give chase on foot before giving up.
The traffic policeman, identified in a police report as Vincent Muhia recorded a statement saying he was on duty along Ngong road when he saw a boda boda rider chasing the motor vehicle while shouting: “Stop!”
He intervened and it is then that the rider allegedly told him that the taxi had caused an accident along Oloitoktok road near Methodist resort in Lavington, Nairobi.
The officer managed to get hold of the taxi driver and directed him to drive to Karen Police Station. It is then that he alleges the driver hit him with a metal bar and forced him out of the vehicle.
Witnesses however have a different narration of the incident. They say the driver was stopped for random inspection, and when the traffic policeman demanded his driving licence, he declined to produce it. The policeman is said to have forced himself into the vehicle before the scuffle ensued.
The incident has elicited the conversation around police safety, rights of civilians and what the law says on traffic offences.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), through their official handle, confirmed that the driver had been arrested.
“Detectives based in Karen arrested the suspect within Kikuyu. The motor vehicle and mobile phone which had earlier been robbed from the officer have been recovered,” read the tweet in part.
The post attracted several comments, with people sharing their experiences on how they reacted when policemen got into their vehicles.
“There was a time I almost got into a fist fight with a police officer. He was insisting on getting into my car yet I was late for an appointment,” confessed Richard k’ouko, explaining that it took self-control and ‘fear of the unknown’ to stop him.
Police spokesman Charles Owino defended the police saying they do not have any other ways of enforcing the law as majority of Kenyans had made it a habit to disappear after they are instructed to report to police stations.
“We still don’t have systems that can allow the police to trace suspects with ease. This has made it easy for suspects to take off after they have been instructed by police to report to a station,” he said.
Matatu drivers who joined the conversation through their social media groups said some policemen have made it a habit to force themselves in cars so that they can solicit for bribes away from the watchful eyes of civilians.
Two months ago, another video emerged of a policeman and driver in a heated debate after the officer insisted on getting in the vehicle. The police department clarified that it is legal for officers to gain entry and even drive a suspect’s vehicle.
“According to the Traffic Act (CAP 403), any police officer in uniform is allowed to stop any vehicle, and for any police officer, licensing officer or inspector to enter any vehicle, to drive any vehicle or cause any vehicle to driven for the purpose of carrying out any examination and test of the vehicle,” the Kenya Police Service said on their twitter handle.
The subject on police safety also emerged, with people highlighting past cases where police officers have either been thwacked in broad daylight by suspects.
A few months ago, a tuk tuk driver in Nakuru was recorded beating