Prosecutors in Egypt confirmed that Tuesday's lethal shooting of a street vendor by a lower ranking policeman in New Cairo took place after a quarrel over payment for "a cup of tea."
According to investigations conducted by the prosecution, three lower ranking policemen – the shooter who has been arrested, and his two peers who are still at large – were regular customers of the street vendor spot near the high-middle class residential compound of El-Rehab, where they reportedly always drank tea without paying for it.
Investigations indicate that the victim refused to serve the policemen for free, causing a verbal dispute that led to one of the policemen – identified as El-Sayed Zeinhom Abdel-Razek – firing shots in the air.
According to the prosecution, the victim suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.
The prosecution added that when friends of the victim attempted to take the policeman’s weapon, another shot was fired, injuring another man.
Earlier on Tuesday, the interior ministry reported that two passers-by were injured in the shooting and taken to New Cairo’s Specialised Air Forces Hospital.
Following the shooting, angry bystanders surrounded the policemen's car in an attempt to attack them. The trio managed to escape before the shooter was arrested, while an arrest warrant has been issued for his colleagues.
Pictures and videos circulating on social media, seemingly taken from the scene in El-Rehab, showed an overturned police van with shattered windows which eyewitnesses say belonged to Abdel-Razek and his two colleagues.
A video circulated on social media showing an impromptu protest at the site of the shooting, with an angry crowd surrounding an ambulance and chanting "the interior ministry are thugs," a slogan that was chanted on different occasions over the past five years over police abuses.
Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported that police dispersed the crowd with warning sirens after their gathering led to the smashing of police and ambulance cars.
Reported pictures of the corpse of the unidentified victim were also circulated by social media users.
Interior minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said in statements, according to the state-owned MENA agency, that any member of the police force who commits wrongdoings is referred directly to investigative bodies, stressing that any mistakes by individual policemen should not tarnish the “efforts and sacrifices” made by all policemen.
In February, another low-ranking policeman killed a driver in the working-class Cairo district of El-Darb El-Ahmar following a dispute over a fare.
A court sentenced the policeman to life in prison this month, one of the harshest sentences issued against police officials convicted of similar violent crimes. The verdict can still be appealed.
Abdel-Ghaffar promised in February the proposal of legislative amendments that would regulate the performance of security services, stressing that they would apply to the entire police force, not only low-ranking policemen.
The amendments have been referred to parliament but have not yet been voted on.