George Nkencho’s family say they lack confidence in inquiry into his death
Family of man who was fatally shot by gardaí in December meet with Minister for Justice
Family members Grace Anyanwu, Gloria Nkencho, Francis Nkencho and friend Olubukola Ashaolu Shopeju after meeting with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on Wednesday. Photograph: Alan Betson
The family of George Nkencho, who was fatally shot by gardaí in December, has reiterated its lack of confidence in the investigation into his death but said Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has assured them it will be independent.
Members of the family held a private meeting with Ms McEntee at a hotel in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, on Wednesday evening at which she told them she had confidence the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) inquiry would be thorough and independent.
The dead man’s sister, Gloria Nkencho, told The Irish Times that while the family still wanted a full public inquiry into her brother’s death, they had been satisfied with their meeting with Ms McEntee and with her suggestion they should wait to see how the Gsoc inquiry unfolds.
She thanked Ms McEntee for agreeing to meet with the family as they had been “very anxious” to impress upon her the scale of their “huge loss” and their “burning need for justice and truth”. The family believed the fatal shooting “has to be one of the biggest blemishes” for the Garda.
Ms Nkencho also said the Blanchardstown area was one of the most ethnically diverse in the Republic and she called for a forum to be created where members of ethnic minorities could engage with gardaí and “hold them to accountability”.
Shortly after the meeting members of the family spoke with the media outside the house on Manorsfield Drive, Dublin 15, where George Nkencho, a 27-year-old black man, was fatally shot on December 30th.
The dead man’s father, Francis Nkencho, said his family was “traumatised and heartbroken” and “the only thing that can bring closure is for a full public investigation into George’s killing”.
“Any Garda being investigated should not still be working . It pains us that the Garda who fired the shots that day has not been suspended while the investigation is on [and] still has access to police colleagues [and] computers,” he said.
When it was put to him that any Garda member under investigation was innocent of wrongdoing until proven guilty, Mr Nkencho reiterated he did not believe the Garda member who shot his son should remain working during the investigation.
Mr Nkencho said that a postmortem conducted on his son’s remains for the family had concluded he was shot six times, though he said the State postmortem had concluded he was wounded five times. Furthermore, he said an incident last week outside his new family home, during which his wife, Blessing, along with a black teenager and gardaí were in a confrontation, had undermined his confidence in the force.
The family also questioned why a man armed with a knife during a recent incident in the southwest had been disarmed by gardaí, yet George Nkencho had not been tackled in the same way.
Mr Nkencho was shot dead in the front garden of his family’s home after a dispute during which he was armed with a knife. He was shot a number of times by the Garda Armed Support Unit after he appeared to lunge at gardaí with the weapon in the aftermath of an alleged assault by him at a nearby shop.
The shooting followed a lengthy interaction between George Nkencho and gardaí, during which Tasers and pepper spray were used in a bid to subdue him, the Garda said. The dead man’s family has said he was suffering from mental health issues.