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Apr 5, 2017

Minister of Police: San Pedro Incident was ‘Regrettable’

Norman Coye & Darnell Madrill

The Belize Police Department continues its media offensive tonight, in the wake of disturbing footage of officers shooting indiscriminately at residents in San Pedro on Saturday morning.  The department has been doing damage control since the video went viral.  In the aftermath of the mayhem on Barrier Reef Drive, a press brief was convened by the Professional Standards Branch to provide an update into a two-pronged investigation that has subsequently been launched and on Tuesday, Police Constables Norman Coye and Darnell Madrill were arraigned for wounding.  As if that were not enough, sustained public outcry has prompted the Ministry of Home Affairs to take additional measures to offset or minimize damage to the reputation and integrity of the police department.  This morning, flanked by Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, Minister of Police Elodio Aragon Jr. took on the media and presented new information insofar as the ongoing inquiry into the weekend melee. Junior Minister Aragon concedes that the incident is indeed a severe black-eye for the law enforcement agency.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of Police

“What has happened thus far [is that] we have two police officers who have been placed on interdiction, on half pay.  These two officers have also been charged, arrested and charged for wounding, various degrees of wounding and we also, the investigation is still ongoing because there are other statements being taken from other witnesses and, of course, we are looking to see what other charges can be laid on these officers and possibly other officers, you know, that were involved in this incident.  I just want to tell the media and the public out there that, you know, from the ministry side of things and the police department, we sympathize with what has happened.  I mean this has involved where we have a conflict or a situation between the police officers and the community.  We’ve always as a police officer looked to work towards and with the community.  In these situations it’s unfortunate but at the same time we must bear in mind that the police department will at no time cover up any kind of thing.  We will do our job because at the end of the day the department’s good name must stand out and tall for everyone to see.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, as a seasoned officer yourself, what is your opinion of what you saw, if you’ve seen the video?  Did these officers handle the situation as a responsible police officer should have?”

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

“Well you know, every scenario is different and police officers are trained to deal with certain scenarios.  They understand the use of justifiable force and harm.  They understand the laws that govern their powers as police officers, et cetera.  From the video I’ve seen, definitely this incident is regrettable.  I must say that this incident was not an incident initiated by the police.  If you all look at the video and understand the facts of the case, this situation initiated when two females were fighting and the police intervened and then of course we had police officers who were not on official duty come and assist and this situation grew to where it is now.  The fact of the matter is that police officers have to be professional officers.  We have to have better trained police officers.”

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