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Criminal probe launched into fatal garda shooting of George Nkencho, says Gsoc

A family photograph showing George Nkencho as a child

A family photograph showing George Nkencho as a child

Brendan Kelly Palenque  and Ken Foy

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) has confirmed that a criminal investigation into the death of George Nkencho is under way.

GSOC said it has been in contact with Mr Nkencho’s family since the day of his death: “A family liaison officer (FLO) was appointed by Gsoc on the evening of Mr Nkencho’s death and has been in contact with the family since then, providing the services of an FLO.”

Solicitor Phelim O’Neill released a statement on behalf of the Nkencho family in which he welcomed the news of a criminal investigation.

The statement expressed extreme concern about what it described as Gsoc’s “distinct lack of urgency” in its approach to the probe.

“The Garda Ombudsman Commission has been unable to specify when it will be in a position to take witness statements from George Nkencho’s three siblings, who were eyewitnesses to their brother’s shooting outside the front door of their family home,” the statement said.

“This admission is made in circumstances where it is acknowledged in the same letter by the investigating officer that these statements are ‘vital to the investigation’.”

However, Gsoc said “Gsoc has begun taking witness statements and, as is the case with any investigation, there are a number of matters to be explored and further witnesses to be contacted.

“This would be in keeping with the carrying out of all criminal investigations.”

A Gsoc spokesperson declined to comment on whether eyewitnesses have been interviewed yet.

The solicitor’s statement added: “It is a well-known fact that with the passage of time memories fade and crucial details can be lost, possibly forever.”

“The eyewitnesses have crucial evidence which both An Garda Síochána and Gsoc have failed as yet to seek out and preserve.”

It is understood the interviewing process for witnesses has begun, but it is unclear if eyewitnesses have been spoken to.

Mr O’Neill said he was also concerned about Gsoc’s admission that “the exact number of gardaí present or number of shots fired has not yet been confirmed.”

Queen Edbiri from Baldoyle takes part in a protest outside Blanchardstown garda station after the death of George Nkencho.

Queen Edbiri from Baldoyle takes part in a protest outside Blanchardstown garda station after the death of George Nkencho.

“This admission comes in circumstances where, elsewhere in the letter, Gsoc confirms it has taken possession of the firearms discharged at the scene; yet, despite this, it maintains that it does not know what officers were present and/or who fired the shots.”

“Gsoc claims to be independent of An Garda Síochána, yet has still refused to identify the members of An Garda Síóchána who discharged their firearms and shot George Nkencho,” the statement said.

Gardaí have consistently said the decision by a highly trained and experienced male officer from the Armed Support Unit (ASU) to fire shots was because the garda believed there was an “imminent threat to life”.

Meanwhile, Mr Nkencho’s sister Gloria spoke on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night about her older brother.

“George was charismatic, he was sociable, he was popular, he was intelligent, he was caring,” she said. “I guess life happens, and people go through things they’re not able to articulate, or they’re not able to explain,” she said.

“Deep depression sets in and they change.”

“I have never known a world where I didn’t have my brother, and now here it is – this is my reality now.”

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