Death before trial: 14 times suspects perished in police custody

Source The Ghana Report

A family is in mourning and demanding answers from the Chamba police over the death of their 18-year-old son.

18-year-old Jagiri Mborilen died in police custody in Chamba, in the Nanumba North Municipality of the Northern Region, and the devastated elder brother of the deceased, Ganiw Abass, who spoke to his brother a few hours before he died, says he suspects foul play.

He said the police detained his brother after a woman and a soothsayer in the community accused him of theft.

Despite his vehement denial, the police later claimed the teenager confessed to the crime while in detention, a confession the family believe was made under duress.

However, the family agreed to pay the supposed stolen amount to the complaint so Jagiri could regain his freedom.

“However, I was called this afternoon after visiting my brother earlier this morning, only to be told he had committed suicide.

“I asked how he got the rope in the cells to commit suicide. He was sitting on the ground with the rope hanging around his neck,” Ganiw said.

But the distraught brother says, “I won’t agree. This matter has to be investigated”.

Jagiri Mborilen’s death is the second death in police custody in the month of June.

Such cases seem to be on the rise over the past three years in various police districts across the country.

From suspects like James Womba and Albert Donkor, The Ghana Report takes a look at some cases where suspects died, under sometimes mysterious circumstances, in custody before they could be tried before a court.


  • Keta youth angry over death of landlord in cells – appeal to IGP for justice

On June 6, 2024, Jerry Kpesenu, an indigene of Keta in the Volta Region, died in police cells after he was arrested in his house.

The bereaved family and the youth accused the police of beating him to death in their custody.

The police, however, insisted the 45-year-old man fell ill in his cell and was rushed to the Keta Municipal Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A spokesman for the bereaved family said that earlier that day, Kpesenu stopped a tenant from fixing an air conditioner in his rented room, insisting the tenant needed his permission to do so.

This led to bitter exchanges between them, and the tenant subsequently reported the matter to the police.

The family spokesman said the two policemen, one in uniform and the other in mufti, turned up in his house and started beating him before dragging him to the Keta Divisional Police Command.

He maintained that Jerry died while in their custody because of the torture meted out to him.

  • Inmate found hanging dead in Akatsi police cell

An inmate of the Akatsi Police station in the Volta Region was found hanging dead in the cell on Tuesday, February 27, 2024.

The suspect, Simon Doeve, was accused of murder and was going through committal at the Akatsi District Court.

He was said to have been remanded in police custody on February 27, 2024, to reappear before the court on March 13, 2024.

He allegedly hanged himself on the same date he was remanded.

According to a police brief, a counter-non-commissioned officer visited the cells and noticed that Doeve was not part of the inmates.

Upon inquiry, other inmates told the sergeant that he was in the washroom, only to find him hanged on the fan hook on the ceiling.

He was hanged to the fan with a duster used for the cleaning of the washroom.

Meanwhile, the police suspected no foul play as the body had no marks of assault.

  • 29-year-old DJ dies in police cell

Police custody

A 29-year-old disc jockey with Mankessim-based Coastal FM, Kwame Egyama, was found dead in a police cell in Mankessim in the Central Region in September 2023.

Kwame, who doubled as a taxi driver, was arrested by the Jedu police after he refused to stop for a routine check by a police team on duty.

He was found dead in the cell a day after his arrest.

His death sparked outrage in the community as family and other residents sought justice for their beloved.

The bereaved family called for a thorough investigation into the incident as they suspected foul play.

  • 30-year-old man allegedly dies in police custody

Police custody

On March 7, 2023, 30-year-old Ernest Acheampong died in police custody at Jachie Pramso in the Ashanti Region.

The police claimed the suspect committed suicide by hanging while in their custody, but his family refuted it.

According to the family, two police officers arrested Acheampong on March 4 for phone theft.

In the process of the arrest, a struggle ensued between the suspect and the police, which resulted in an injury on the face of one of the officers.

However, the family’s attempts to secure bail for the suspect on March 5 and 6 proved futile.

The family was called to the police station on Tuesday, March 7, only to be informed of the death of their relative.

  • Man allegedly killed by police at Ntakoful

A 25-year-old man died in police custody after some officers of the Western Region Police Command arrested him in April 2023.

Emmanuel Baiden, popularly known as Abukabakar Sadik, was arrested from his home on suspicion of armed robbery.

However, his family and other residents’ efforts to identify the police station where he was held after his arrest proved futile.

The family spokesperson said the Police Command later informed them that the suspect was killed during a shootout with some officers.

Assembly Member for Ntankoful, Pascal Hagan, added that they insisted on an autopsy at the Police Hospital in Accra, which confirmed that the suspect died of gunshot wounds.

  • Family accuses police of killing suspect in custody at Kasoa

Police custody

In December 2022, a 23-year-old man died in police custody after being arrested in connection with a Kasoa Big Man Town robbery.

On the afternoon of December 20, 2022, three armed robbers shot a mobile money vendor, and an undisclosed amount of money was taken away.

During investigations, the family said police broke into Gordon’s room on the night of December 23 to arrest him but failed to disclose which particular police station they took him to.

They said all efforts to locate him proved futile as the police officers kept directing them to the wrong stations, including the police headquarters.

However, a police team reached out to them on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, and invited them to the Kasoa Divisional Police Command, where they were informed that Godfred had fallen ill and died whilst in custody.

The family insisted that he was innocent and, therefore, called on the IGP to investigate the death thoroughly.

  • Robbery suspect dies in police custody at Nkoranza

In May 2022, an alleged armed robber, Albert Donkor, died in police custody at Nkoranza in the Bono East Region.

Police gathered intelligence that a suspect, Albert Donkor, and a gang of five other suspected armed robbers were involved in several armed robbery attacks in the region, including armed robbery attacks at Nkoranza on April 19 and 20, 2022.

According to police, based on this intelligence, an operation was conducted during which the suspect, Albert Donkor, was shot.

He was rushed to the Holy Family Hospital for medical attention, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, his family claimed he was innocent and accused the police of killing him to cover up their involvement in the robbery,

The Youth of Nkoranza went on a rampage and attacked the Municipal Police Headquarters, demanding justice for the death of the suspect.

  • Taxi driver dies in police custody at Sekondi

In December 2021, a taxi driver died in police custody at Sekondi in the Western Region after he was arrested for knocking down some police officers around the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital.

Joseph Entsie was pronounced dead in the police cell the same day he was arrested.

Entsie’s family said the police claimed that he committed suicide, but they suspected foul play.

A brother of the deceased taxi driver, Kwame Appiah, said the police said his brother hanged himself in the cells with his trousers.

However, he insisted that Entsie was in shorts when he went to the cells.

The pathologist who performed an autopsy on him had informed the family he did not die by hanging.

In March 2022, the family sued the police, and the court ruled that  Entsie was killed by police officers.

The court also directed the Attorney General to prosecute the police officers involved.

  • Man who allegedly killed his wife found dead in police custody

On June 12, 2022, David Ayornu, a 31-year-old resident of Lufenya, near Kasseh in the Ada East District, reportedly died in police custody at Ada.

He was in detention for allegedly slashing the belly of his wife and killing her on June 3.

According to the police, he was unwell after allegedly killing his wife.

The suspect was sent to the hospital, where he was treated and discharged. He was then brought to the police station at Kasseh.

Ayornu’s other inmates realized he was unconscious, and he was sent to the Ada East District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

  • Two police officers interdicted after suspect dies in custody

Two police officers were interdicted in August 2022 following the death of a suspect under detention at the Abrafo-Kokoben police station in the Ashanti Region.

A statement from the Ashanti regional police command indicated that the duo claimed: “The deceased suspect, arrested on August 4 2022, fell ill while in custody and was rushed to the hospital for medical attention but died”.

On these grounds, the two officers were interdicted pending further investigations.

  • Ashaiman: Suspect dies in police cells

A suspect, 35-year-old Ebenezer Dosu, also died in police cells at Ashaiman in the Tema Police Regional Command in May 2022.

The reason for arresting the suspect and placing him in police cells was reportedly not recorded in the station diary.

Other inmates noticed the suspect needed medical attention at night and drew the attention of the policeman on duty.

They were reportedly ignored until the suspect died the following day, on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

This led to the interdiction of four police officers.

  • 43-year-old suspect dies in Mile 7 police custody

A 43-year-old man being held in custody by the Mile 7 Police in Accra for allegedly defrauding by false pretence died barely 24 hours after he was arrested.

The then Public Relations Officer of the Accra Regional Police Command DSP, Mrs Effia Tenge, confirmed the incident and said Daniel Omari Aboagye died around 1:30 a.m.

She said he reported sick a few hours into being in custody.

He was rushed to the Police Hospital, where he was treated, discharged, and sent back to the cell at 10:30 p.m.

However, inmates in the police cell drew the attention of the police personnel on duty to Aboagye’s motionless body and indicated that he was not responding to their calls.

The police went into the cell to give him first aid but found Aboagye unresponsive.

  • Prof Benneh’s ‘killer’ dies in custody
The late James Nana Womba


The main suspect, who allegedly confessed involvement in the murder of law lecturer Prof. Yaw Benneh, died in police custody on October 17, 2020.

According to police, 26-year-old James Womba, a cleaner in Prof. Benneh’s Adjiringanor mansion in Accra, had been sick for a while and was put on oxygen at the intensive care unit of the hospital but died after some time.

Meanwhile, his mother said she suspected that someone killed her son.

Madam Talata Nona told journalists that she saw her son a week before he died, and nothing showed that he was sick.

She added that although her son allegedly died on a Saturday, she was only informed on Monday by four armed men from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

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