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Jun 8, 2015

Police Officer Shoots Armed Clubgoer in Old Capital

Kareem Betancourt

Internal and criminal investigations are currently ongoing at the Police Department in Belize City after a city resident was shot by an on-duty police officer. Thirty-year old Kareem Betancourt is tonight in stable condition and under police guard at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after he was shot to the right arm by a police officer just before two a.m. on Saturday. According to reports, Betancourt, who is from the Ring Road in the Martins Area of Belize City, was searched by the officer as he attempted to enter Elements Nightclub on New Town Barrack. That’s when Betancourt brandished a firearm and pointed it at the officer, who responded by pulling out his service nine-millimeter pistol. Betancourt reportedly fled the scene, but the officer caught up with him and fired a shot which caught him on the elbow. The police then retrieved a point forty-five pistol loaded with five live rounds. Police Press Officer, Raphael Martinez, updated the media today on the incident.

 

Raphael Martinez, Police Press Officer

“On the seventh of June at approximately one-forty-five, there was an incident that occurred at a very popular nightclub on Newtown Barracks, where a person upon entering this nightclub was searched by a police officer who was on special assignment there. Upon being searched, he pulled out a firearm and of course the police responded by pulling out his licensed nine millimeter. This person ran away, he was pursued and apprehended by the police but in the process of being apprehended he was shot in the arm. Police have since recovered a point four-five pistol from him and he has been transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in a stable condition. But I should be able to give you a little more information later.”

 

Raphael Martinez

Reporter

“Is it that there was some disagreement or alcohol was involved? What else could you say about that?”

 

Raphael Martinez

“Well the police at this present moment, we know as you’ve mentioned a while ago, we know that it is graduation time and we have quite a few young people having fun out there. We, in the police department, want to ensure the safety of our people; knowing that we had several incidents that occurred previously. So when it comes to popular nightclubs or where police are, we…even if police are not there—and there is a security person there, we try to encourage that personnel who is there to search people to ensure that we try to minimize firearm incidents, murder, stabbing incidents. So we look precisely to firearms, knives or any other object that can be used as a weapon. So this is one of the processes that the police officer was going through when he found this person with a firearm.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir I just need to ask, there is always that question of excessive use of force by the officers. If this person was in fact like you said, fleeing from the officer, was this officer’s life being threatened that he would have needed to fire a shot at this individual that is running from him?”

 

Raphael Martinez

“Whenever a police officer pulls out his firearm and shoots at another person, even if he misses that person, whenever the firearm is being used, there is always an internal as well as a legal procedure that is being followed to justify the use of force. It is what you call standard operational procedures within the police department; that whenever a firearm is used in the application throughout his duty, there is an inquiry and this is normally taken by the Professional Standards Branch to justify the use of force.”

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